On Tuesday of this week, I met with the Minister of Health, Bruce Fitch, after having requested a meeting with himself and the Premier to discuss various topics, but primarily to continue to urge government to provide retention incentives to New Brunswick nurses.
Despite my best efforts to ensure the reasons for offering these incentives is well explained to this government, this government fails to see the importance of taking this action and providing NB nurses with a reason to stay. We have been communicating why this is important since August of 2022 when Newfoundland and Labrador announced their incentives and on numerous occasions since then.
Just a few hours after our meeting on Tuesday, I received this message from Minister Fitch’s office:
While we appreciate your perspective on retention incentives, we must inform you that there will be no further consideration or discussion on incentives at this time. We acknowledge the dedication and hard work of nurses in our province, and we remain committed to finding effective solutions to address the current shortage of health care workers. Our priority is true transformational change in the health care system and through the Provincial Health Plan, Stabilizing Health Care: An Urgent Call to Action, we have committed to and are investing in real change across the province.
Moving forward, please note that all future meetings on this matter will be held with the Minister of Health. Thank you for sharing your comments with me. I look forward to continuing our collaboration with the New Brunswick Nurses’ Union and would expect that the Union will support nursing initiatives as we move forward to overcome the challenges within our system.
Firstly, I’m certain this response came directly from the Premier, who chose not to meet with me.
Secondly, I’m sure they had this response already drafted before our meeting.
Finally, the dismissive tone of this letter is insulting – Premier Higgs is tone-deaf when it comes to issues of importance and he’s not willing to listen to any form of reason if it doesn’t line up with his agenda to save money.
Well, Mr. Premier, you may think this conversation is over because you said it’s over, but we won’t forget how you dismissed us.
Paula Doucet is president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union.