Some Horizon Health Network employees are wondering if they are about to receive layoff notices after the health authority announced 131 job cuts on Thursday.
Ralph McBride, provincial co-ordinator for CUPE Local 1252 for health care, says a number of members are "very upset."
It's the "not knowing," he said. "'Do I have a job for the rest of the year? Or am I going to get a lay-off notice tomorrow?' So it's created quite a bit of havoc within the health care system itself, and in the workplaces."
Horizon officials say only non-clinical positions in administration and management will be affected and the cuts will have no impact on patient care.
McBride says he doesn't believe that's possible.
"Eventually, that has to trickle down to every day care, be it in nurses or CUPE," he said.
The job cuts are expected to save $6.7 million, but the health network will still need to trim another $14 million from its spending this fiscal year.
McBride says he isn't sure where those savings can be found and worries future cuts will be to rural health care, such as emergency room closures or reduced clinic hours.
"In the front-line workers, there's no fat. We're working right now with skeleton crews. They don't replace sick calls if there happen to be people sick. They don't replace front-line workers any more. They've reduced overtime. So there's not much fat in the front-line workers," he said.
"I can't speak on the administration part of things, but as far as front-line services, it's been cut to the bones over the last number of years."
The cuts are part of an overall effort to make the health system more effective and efficient, Health Minister Ted Flemming said.
Another 57 positions will be affected when FacilicorpNB consolidates its laundry services.
Vitalité Health Network will be cutting 400 jobs over the next three years.
The Department of Health also plans to cut 40 jobs over the next two years, Flemming said.