Article by: DAILY GLEANER
Southwest Miramichi-Bay du Vin Tory MLA Jake Stewart says he would scrap the controversial Medavie extra-mural contract, contrary to the position of his leader, who said he would prefer to see how it works first.
An outspoken Tory MLA says he would scrap the controversial Medavie extra-mural contract, even though his leader says it would be a “reckless” pledge to do so.
Southwest Miramichi-Bay du Vin MLA Jake Stewart said he doesn’t support the deal and never has.“I would scrap the Medavie deal, absolutely” Stewart said. “I don’t think we should ever have signed the Medavie deal here in New Brunswick.”
Earlier this month, Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs said that while he remains critical of the deal, now that it’s signed it must be tested as to whether it improves the system’s performance.
“I’m not going to take a position that we have seen for generations in government promising to simply undo what the last one did without any justification,” Higgs said earlier this month. “It is very reckless [to make that commitment].”
A clause in the 28-page agreement that hands over control of the province’s extra-mural medical program to Medavie allows the province to void the contract without cause and pay Medavie a penalty of up to $1 million.Stewart said that penalty is tough, but it’s a price taxpayers should be willing to pay to get out of it.“If it costs the taxpayers $1 million to get rid of that 10-year, billion-dollar deal, or whatever it is, so be it. It [isn’t] a practice that I would want to do all the time.”
Under the deal, the province would pay $2.6 million per year for Medavie’s administration costs. The contract also allows a maximum of $1.8 million in incentive fees each fiscal year by Medavie.Stewart said he’s decided to contradict his leader on the Medavie deal because he’s been hearing from people in his riding who are against it.
“It had nothing to do with Blaine Higgs,” he told the Daily Gleaner. “The people in my constituency don’t want it.”
Stewart said the Medavie deal is similar to the Shannex deal in some ways.Shannex, a company based out of Nova Scotia, runs nursing homes in Fredericton, Saint John, Quispamsis, Moncton and Riverview, with the help of public money.
“It’s the way that these two projects got off the ground that, I think, the taxpayers have a right to look at,” Stewart said.
Earlier this month, Green Party Leader David Coon appeared before the Court of Queen’s Bench in Fredericton in an effort to get the Department of Social Development to release the full contents of contracts with Shannex. Higgs did not respond to request for comment on Monday.