The Common Front for Social Justice New Brunswick is concerned that recent changes in the health care system would open the door to the privatization of services, which would greatly disadvantage people living in poverty.
With buzzwords such as “efficiency” and “quick results,” the removal of democratically elected New Brunswickers from regional health authorities and the Telegraph-Journal editors calling for more “private options” in the health care system, the privatization risks are significant. Limiting health care reform decisions to a small group of people with no consultation or oversight will impact the population’s ability to prevent privatization before it’s too late.
Privatizing services won’t solve the current health care issues and adding a financial barrier or user fees will affect many New Brunswickers living in poverty who already cannot access the services they desperately need. The importance of services like health care became increasingly evident in the COVID-19 pandemic. New Brunswickers, especially people living in poverty, low-income workers, families, people with disabilities, youth and seniors, find it difficult to access health care services, including family doctors, primary care, acute care, long-term care and mental health. As we’ve seen over the past several months, many emergency departments across the province have closed for periods of time due to staff shortage.
The barriers to health care access are compounded with the recently rising cost of living and inflation rates which mean people can barely afford to pay their rent, utilities and groceries.
“Statistics Canada announced [this week] that prices increased by 9.1 per cent in New Brunswick between June 2021 and June 2022,” remarked Gabrielle Ross-Marquette, Labour Co-Chair of the Common Front, “we cannot risk additional barriers to access public services when low-wage earners’ pay cheques are not going as far as they used to, and fixed income New Brunswickers cannot hold their heads above water.”
To mitigate this pandemic crisis, the private sector is not the solution. It is crucial that the government improves its funding to our health care system and working conditions for all health care sector workers, including COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 protections. New Brunswickers in every region deserve free and accessible health care services without discrimination. Health care and public sector workers deserve support, and better and safe working conditions, especially in a time of crisis.
The Common Front for Social Justice is an anti-poverty network of people living in poverty, unions and community organizations, advocates for better wages, working conditions and living conditions in New Brunswick.