A petition containing about 200 signatures is on its way from Sackville to Premier Gallant’s office in Fredericton.
The petition, organized by former Sackville Mayor Pat Estabrooks, calls on the Liberal government not to sign a contract with the private company Medavie for the management of extramural home care services.
It will also be sent or given to Health Minister Benoit Bourque, Minister for Seniors and Long-Term Care Lisa Harris and local MLA Bernard LeBlanc.
“My gut feeling is that our Ministers and MLAs have no idea how efficient this [extramural] service is or what services are offered to our seniors,” Estabrooks says in an e-mail to The New Wark Times.
“To me, it is an excuse to contract out with no responsibility to government,” the former mayor adds.
Among other things, the petition says that “extramural services has been an enormously popular health program, a crown jewel of our public health-care system and if it is not broken, why are we trying to fix it?”
SANB organizes petition too
La Société de L’Acadie du N.B. (SANB) is also organizing a petition that can be signed until the end of November.
The SANB petition objects that the government decided to contract out management of extramural and the tele-care 811 phone services to Medavie without soliciting tenders from other potential providers and apparently without commissioning a scientific study showing that privatization would deliver a higher quality of health care for patients.
Click here to read the petition in both official languages and to see how many have signed so far.
On Saturday, the SANB along with the New Brunswick Francophone Seniors’ Association and the group Égalité Santé en Français sponsored a full-page newspaper ad in the French-language daily newspaper L’Acadie Nouvelle accusing the New Brunswick government of acting without public consultation and in spite of strong opposition from Vitalité Health Network, the elected regional health authority.
Hector Cormier, a long-time advocate for seniors, warns that the Liberals should be worried about losing support in the next provincial election.
“Citizens in New Brunswick are up in arms against that ridiculous move on the part of government,” Cormier says in an e-mail sent to warktimes.
Ambulance New Brunswick under fire
The growing opposition to privatizing the management of home care comes as the Telegraph-Journal, New Brunswick’s largest newspaper, continues its series of reports on the apparent shortcomings of Ambulance New Brunswick (ANB), the paramedic service that Medavie has managed since 2007.
In its latest article, published on Saturday, the newspaper reports that ANB is continuing to try to block requests for information about how often ambulances are out of operation because of paramedic shortages.
The Telegraph-Journal first filed a request last March under New Brunswick’s Right to Information law, but has yet to receive the statistics it is seeking.
On Saturday, investigative reporter Michael Robinson wrote about how ANB’s latest attempts to block the release of information came after the newspaper published another story showing “how family members in Northern New Brunswick were forced to place their 78-year-old relative on a makeshift stretcher and transport her to the hospital in the back of an SUV when an ambulance didn’t arrive within the government-mandated response time.”
Robinson’s report adds that the newspaper obtained documents showing “there were no paramedics available to operate the community’s lone ambulance that night.”
Continuing reports about slow ambulances have been cited by those who argue that the management of extramural home care should not be contracted out to the same company that already operates Ambulance New Brunswick.