Privatization of Healthcare: Question Period – October 27, 2017
Here is the video and transcript of oral questions today recorded in the language it was originally spoken.
M. Coon : Je n’ai trouvé personne dans la province qui appuie la privatisation de la gestion des
soins de santé, à l’exception des parlementaires du côté du gouvernement. Le Réseau de santé
Vitalité, Égalité santé en français N.-B., la Société de l’Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick,
l’Association Acadienne et Francophone des aînées et aînés du Nouveau-Brunswick, la Coalition
for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents’ Rights, la Fédération des citoyens aînés du N.-B., le
Syndicat des employé(e)s des secteurs public et privé du Nouveau-Brunswick et le Syndicat
canadien de la fonction publique s’y opposent tous. Le ministre de la Santé va-t-il renverser sa
décision de retirer au Réseau de santé Vitalité la gestion du personnel infirmier du Programme
extra-mural pour la remettre à Medavie?
Hon. Mr. Bourque: Thank you very much for the question. As you know, our population is
aging. New Brunswick has the oldest population in Canada, and it is not going to get better.
There is going to be a larger aging population in the future. If we look at the numbers, we know
that, in the past 15 years, the population of New Brunswick has grown by 2% while the
population of those 65 years of age and older has grown by 15%. That is not going to change in
the next 15 years. In fact, the projections are that, in the next 15 years, the population will grow
by 1% and the population of those 65 years of age and older will still grow by 50%, so we need
to be ready. I want to mention that we do have some support for this initiative. At the announcement, we had
the New Brunswick Medical Society and the Nurses Association of New Brunswick supporting
this, and the Horizon RHA is in full support of this initiative.
Mr. Coon: This government has privatized the management of public pensions, and it has
privatized the management of our extramural nurses, food and cleaning services in our hospitals,
property assessment, and the provision of nursing homes. When it comes to privatizing the
management of our extramural nurses, that, indeed, may be a violation of the Canada Health
Act, which requires the public administration of health services. Why does the Minister of Health not have faith in the ability of our health authorities, Horizon and Vitalité, to manage the work of our extramural nurses? Instead, he is trusting Medavie Health Services in Nova Scotia to tell them how to best care for their patients.
L’hon. M. Bourque : Ceci me donne vraiment l’occasion d’expliquer certaines choses.
He said the “p” word. Ce mot-là, bien souvent, fait peur. Les parlementaires du côté de l’opposition se plaisent à faire peur. Ici, nous parlons de maintenir un système entièrement public comme c’est le cas
présentement. Il s’agit tout simplement de créer une autre entité complètement publique, comme
c’est déjà le cas avec Ambulance Nouveau-Brunswick. Depuis déjà plus d’une dizaine d’années,
Ambulance Nouveau-Brunswick fait partie de la partie III de la fonction publique, tout comme
les réseaux de santé. Ici, il s’agit de créer une nouvelle entité qui s’appellera EM/ANB Inc et qui
fera exactement la même chose. L’unique chose que nous faisons, c’est que Medavie s’occupera
de la gestion. C’est tout.
Mr. Coon: I am well aware of the secrecy surrounding Medavie’s management of Ambulance
New Brunswick. At a Standing Committee on Crown Corporations meeting earlier this month, I
asked the subsidiary of Nova Scotia-based Medavie Health Services that manages our public
ambulance service to provide financial statements for its $30-million share of the $100-million
annual contract that the government provides to run Ambulance New Brunswick. The CEO of
Medavie’s local subsidiary, who is also the CEO of Ambulance New Brunswick, refused to
release those financial statements to the committee.
Recently, I was told by a representative of the board of directors of Ambulance New Brunswick
that it does not even see Medavie’s financial statements. Now, the minister intends to eliminate
the accountability for the tens of millions of dollars that we are going to pay Medavie every year
to manage our extramural health services. Why does the minister want to hide how our tax
dollars are being spent on health care?
Hon. Mr. Bourque: Medavie is a fantastic organization. Medavie has proven that it is a leader
in Canada and all over the world for the provision of health services. Did you know that it is the
largest private ambulance provider in the country? These are facts that show that the partnerships
that Medavie has, not only with the government of New Brunswick but also with various
governments and organizations across the country and around the world, bring a lot of value.
That is the value that we have taken advantage of for the past decade, and we will continue to do
I also want to state that Medavie Health Services is a not-for-profit organization. There are no
shareholders and no dividends with this organization. It is a purely New Brunswick . . . Its head
offices are here in New Brunswick, and we are happy to work with it.