National Newswatch

FREDERICTON — The premier of New Brunswick is warning of changes coming to the province's health care system.

Blaine Higgs issued a statement Monday saying the current health care model is not working and New Brunswickers deserve better.

He said the two regional health authorities have been asked to find solutions to the problems.

"To put things in perspective, there were 23 service interruptions last year, including the temporary closure of crucial departments such as labour and delivery, general surgery and outpatients at some hospitals," Higgs said. "We are facing a mental health crisis across the province, our population is aging, and we are also dealing with a significant labour shortage."

Approximately 35 per cent of physicians and 40 per cent of nurses in the province are eligible for retirement over the next five years.

Higgs said the government needs to act "with a sense of urgency" to ensure quality health care is maintained.

"These ongoing challenges have been ignored for far too long by previous governments for political reasons," Higgs said. "While change is not easy, it is necessary and we are prepared to do what is right for all New Brunswickers."

On Tuesday morning, the CEOs of the Horizon Health Network and Vitalite Health Network will announce the changes they have planned.

Higgs said the approach will ensure a quality health-care system that will reduce wait times and improve access to doctors and nurse practitioners across the province.

Last month, Health Minister Hugh Flemming announced the province was adding another 32 nurse practitioner positions in an effort to reduce wait times and improve access to primary care.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 10, 2020.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press

Click here for more political news headlines