Member’s Statement: Privatizing Public Health – 19 February 2016

The Minister of Health wants to privatize the delivery of our Extra-Mural Health Program within the next six months.  The nurses, social workers and dieticians caring for New Brunwickers in their homes would still be considered public employees, but they would be working for a private company.  This is how our ambulance system is managed now.  We provide the company with $100 million per year and they run the ambulance service.  When we need an ambulance we pay a user fee.   While the paramedics are considered public employees they actually work for the company.  In delivering public health care to New Brunswickers, our government has a moral responsibility to its citizens.  When a private company becomes involved in delivering health care, it has a contractual responsibility to government.  This is a very different thing.  The Minister of Health is considering combining our Extra-Mural health program, with our ambulance system and entering into a contract with the same company to run the whole thing.  He says this won’t save any money, but that perhaps down the road, he would have the company actually manage the medical case files of New Brunswickers cared for by Extra-Mural.  The Extra-Mural program is working well.  It costs roughly $77 million to operate.   Why would we turn over the delivery of public health care to the private sector.  Can user fees be far behind?