Author by : Jordan Gill
The minister has a solution looking for a problem. We don’t have a problem with extramural. It’s working well. – David Coon
New Brunswick Political Panel November 16, 2017 35:00
Health Minister Benoît Bourque says New Brunswickers won’t get details of the Liberal government’s contract with Medavie to run extramural care until after the deal is signed.
Bourque told the CBC News political panel that the contract is being worked on.
“Anyone of us who negotiates our salaries, or contracts or benefits for any unions will not go in front of people saying, ‘This is what we’re negotiating,'” he said.
‘The minister has a solution looking for a problem. We don’t have a problem with extramural. It’s working well.’ – David Coon, Green Party MLA
In September, the Brian Gallant government announced it would be privatizing the management of extramural nursing and Tele-Care, putting them under the control of Medavie Health Services New Brunswick, a not-for-profit private company.
Although the extramural program was highly regarded within and outside New Brunswick, the Liberals started talking more than a year ago about turning it over to Medavie.
The government chose Medavie without issuing a call for proposals.
Bourque wouldn’t reveal how far along negotiations are with the company but said the contract will be signed before Jan. 1, when the deal is to go into effect.
The estimated cost for the first year of a proposed 10-year contract is $4.4 million.
It was the government’s decision not to call for proposals that concerned Progressive Conservative MLA Brian Macdonald.
“It’s not fair for them to say, ‘Oh, we talked about it or we mentioned it in the speech from the throne,” he said during the panel discussion.
“Companies are waiting for a request for proposal. It’s a specific process.”
Green Party Leader David Coon said he doesn’t understand why the changes to extramural are necessary in the first place.
“The minister has a solution looking for a problem,” said Coon.
“We don’t have a problem with extramural. It’s working well.”
People’s Alliance Leader Kris Austin expressed concern about accountability, saying it’s hard enough to get information out of Crown corporations such as Opportunities NB.
He thinks Medavie will be much the same.
Finds ambulance a mystery too
“It seems like the more you privatize these essentially private services, the less information you’re going to get out of them,”
“Look at Ambulance New Brunswick. Try to get information on that.”
The decision to pay Medavie to take over extramural management has baffled patients and people in health care, and Bourque and Gallant have not explained why it is necessary except to say it isn’t to save money.
They also haven’t explained how Medavie will do a better job than current managers of extramural services.
But Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs, who is opposed to the Medavie plan, has said it might be hard to scrap if it’s airtight. He’s ben trying to find out more about it.
He has asked in the legislature, for instance, whether the government will be able to walk away from the deal if Medavie misses performance targets.