Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Higgs excuses on healthcare don’t add up

"We know hospital occupancy has always been a problem. We've had that before COVID. But are people being released [in] an appropriate [amount of] time? Do we have a flow through the system as needed, so we keep people moving because new people are coming in? All of these things are a process improvement, a flow, a management issue, and that's why I focus so much on that."
If this statement given to CBC News by Premier Higgs is any indication of how he intends to handle the crisis we’re facing in health care, he’s either ill informed or not willing to address the real issue.
We do not have enough people working in the health care system. The evidence could not be more clear. The number of vacant positions is in the thousands, more than 60,000 New Brunswickers do not have a family doctor, Emergency Room closures are announced on a weekly basis due a lack of staff.
The solution offered by the Premier. It essentially amounts to scapegoating the boards of Horizon and Vitalité, firing the CEO of Horizon, and holding no politician responsible, instead just shuffling two ministers into different files. As for actual changes in the system, Higgs statement to CBC above can be boiled down to telling workers to do more with less.
It’s an old and tired refrain. It’s the reason we’re in this mess of a situation. Numerous governments, including this one, have neglected to invest in workers and decided cuts were needed despite all the evidence stating otherwise.
Politicians for decades have starved the health care system of human resources and then blame the previous administration. The difference this time is the pandemic. It shone a bright light on the lack of workers in health care.
And what was the response from government upon seeing the light? They decided they had enough of protecting citizens and the health care system, took away all mandatory pandemic protection measures and told New Brunswickers to fend for themselves.
We need more people working in the system and money is part of the solution. Recruitment and retention takes funding and a plan. Making changes to the system will have costs.
If he’s serious, the Premier needs to be transparent with health care and the subsequent funds. Release quarterly reports showing where funds ae being allocated and spent. This way New Brunswickers know how their money is being utilized to fix the most important service to their health and wellness.
Present a plan to the public on how you will get more workers into the system and keep them. Invest the resources to make the plan effective, include workers in the decision-making process.
Finally, promise New Brunswickers privatization is not an option. Privatization delivers poorer services, prioritizes the wealthy to receive timely and effective treatment, and makes profits more important that people.
In short, it’s a bad plan with worse outcomes.
The Premier needs to do more than blame others, ask workers to do more with less and starve the system of resources. He needs to do the opposite: lead, take responsibility and invest in people that will improve the system for all New Brunswickers.