Sackville Town Council is joining other municipalities in calling on New Brunswick Premier Higgs to fire Ted Flemming, the provincial health minister and to remove Karen McGrath and Gilles Lanteigne, the Chief Executive Officers of the Horizon and Vitalité Health Networks.
During their regular meeting on Feb. 2, Sackville councillors passed a unanimous motion declaring that a majority of Sackville residents had “lost trust and confidence in the present leadership of these provincial health organizations.”
In passing the motion, Sackville joined three mayors in the Sussex area who have already called on Higgs to replace the health minister and the two health network CEOs.
The motion came in response to plans announced on Feb. 11 to cut medical services at the Sackville Memorial Hospital including shutting down the emergency room overnight, eliminating all acute-care beds and closing the operating room where day surgeries are performed.
It called the cuts “the wrong solutions to properly address the underlying problems in the health care system” and referred to what it called “a complete lack of consultation with health care professionals and with the affected communities.”
Although Higgs announced on Feb. 16 that the government would not proceed with the cuts and would consult with people in the six rural communities where hospitals would have been affected, Sackville’s motion calls on “the government of New Brunswick to provide a clear and final renunciation of the currently suspended plans for rural hospitals.”
It also asks for a provincial commitment “to launch a new and rural-informed process to develop practical and comprehensive solutions to the underlying issues in our health care system.”
Mayor Higham told council the motion was drafted during a meeting on Sunday with members of a local committee established to fight hospital cuts.
He promised he would write to Higgs to let him know about the contents of the Sackville motion. (To read the e-mail, the mayor sent to the premier on March 3, click here.)
Higham said the mayors in communities affected by the cuts would confer Tuesday morning to discuss possible next steps.
“We’ll come back with some suggestions,” he said. “There are a couple of events that we’re considering that all communities with these issues should attend and we’ll confirm whether that’s going to happen or not,” he concluded.
Bruce Wark worked in broadcasting and journalism education for more than 35 years. He was at CBC Radio for nearly 20 years as senior editor of network programs such as The World at Six and World Report. He currently writes for The New Wark Times where this story first appeared.