Thirty-two nurses at seven hospitals in the Horizon Health Network received layoff notices on Friday.
The province's largest health authority said in a statement the layoffs are a result of Horizon's changes to "standardize models of care and staff skill mix" on its 22 family medicine units.
Most of the units will see a reduction in the number of registered nurses. In two units, the complement of registered nurses will increase. Several units will see an increase in the number of positions for licenced practical nurses.
Leslie Reid, the regional director of workforce relations for Horizon, said there are enough vacancies within the hospital authority for those receiving notices on Friday to move into other jobs.
However, more layoff notices will be coming for LPNs and patient care attendants, Reid said.
Marilyn Quinn, the president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union, said her union will watch the situation closely.
"The employer has a process to set the skill mix but NBNU has our own process to identify the effect of changes on patient care safety and the safety of our members," said Quinn in a statement.
"NBNU will monitor and report any changes that do not support safe patient care or practice environments for registered nurses."
The affected nurses work in the family medicine units at Saint John Regional Hospital, Charlotte County Hospital in St. Stephen, Sussex Hospital, the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton, Oromocto Public Hospital, Upper River Valley Hospital in Watervilled and The Moncton Hospital.
Norma Robinson of the New Brunswick Council of Hospital Unions Local 1252, representing housekeepers and some other health-care workers, described the layoffs as "a scary thought."
"It's surprsing to see more of this happening, but it's not surprising considering that a few months ago we were told there's going to be a thousand jobs being eliminated out of Horizon Health and Vitalité, so I guess we'll have to wait and see what this new model is going to look like."
Horizon Health and Vitalité Health Network have both announced significant layoffs this year as they attempt to reduce spending by tens of millions of dollars.
In April, Horizon announced a cut of 131 jobs as part of its efforts to reduce spending by $22-million this year. Vitalité said it was eliminating the equivalent of 400 full-time jobs in an effort to save $24-million dollars a year.