Health network language debate underway

Francophones who live in mostly anglophone areas of New Brunswick say they want to remain part of the Horizon Health Network.

Suggestion all francophones should use Vitalité network

A committee of MLAs is studying how to elect members to the boards of New Brunswick's two health networks.

That's led to a debate over what should come first — language or geography.

A Moncton doctor has proposed all francophone communities in the province be served by the Vitalité Health Network, which he argues would give francophones their own health network.

Thierry Arsenault, who heads a French community centre in Fredericton, disagrees. Francophones in Fredericton use a hospital operated by the Horizon Health Network.

Arsenault said he and his counterparts in Saint John and Miramichi don't want to be moved.

"Those communities are serviced by Horizon Health, so we think it's important we're part of the health authority that provides the services," said Arsenault.

He said all hospitals in the province are required to provide service in both languages, regardless of which health network they're in.

Health Minister Madeleine Dube said that won't change.

"We have one health-care system in New Brunswick. We have one. And each hospital, each health service, needs to be offered in the language of choice," said Dube.

New Brunswickers will elect some members to the two health network boards next May, during municipal elections.