Moving the headquarters of New Brunswick's two new regional health authorities to Miramichi and Bathurst won't mean more jobs, says Health Minister Mike Murphy.
Murphy announced on Tuesday the eight regional health authorities in the province will be eliminated and replaced with two larger boards based in Bathurst and Miramichi.
Putting the offices in the cities sends the signal that northern New Brunswick will play a central role in the health-care system, Murphy said.
"Certainly the Miramachi has been experiencing some stressful times from an economic point of view recently, as has Bathurst, as has the North Shore," said Miramichi Mayor John Mackay after the initial announcement. "I think it's certainly welcome that the initiative puts both of these administrative centres in northern New Brunswick."
Mackay said he was hopeful the restructured health-care system would bring jobs to a region struggling with the downturn of the province's forestry industry.
Job losses not gains
But Murphy said the changed system doesn't necessarily mean new jobs.
If anything, the restructuring will eliminate jobs, Murphy said. The purpose of the change is to end the duplication of services that existed while the province had eight regional health authorities, Murphy said.
The reorganization will also establish a health council in Moncton to report on the performance of the system and a public sector company in Saint John that will be in charge of all non-clinical services.
The minister said he doesn't yet know how many jobs will be lost with the restructuring, but the losses will occur throughout the province, including Miramichi and Bathurst.
"The CEOs are coming back to the board of management and myself by the end of April with their plan as to the location of jobs, the elimination of some jobs, reductions," Murphy said. "It's not going to be quick and dramatic."
Most of the job losses will be from administrative positions in non-clinical services such as payroll, telecommunications, purchasing and laundry.
About half of the 56 vice-presidents employed at the hospitals will also be eliminated.
CEO won't be moving north
The CEOs of the new health authorities will also not be required to live in either Miramichi or Bathurst.
Donald Peters, who has been appointed as the CEO of Regional Health Authority B in Miramichi, told CBC News he doesn't intend to move to the northern city.
"Am I moving to Miramichi? Part-time, I will," Peters said.
Peters was serving as the CEO of the South-East Regional Health Authority, which had been based in Moncton, about 130 kilometres south of Miramichi.
Where the CEOs and staff of the new health authorities choose to reside is their personal business, Murphy said. But travel expenses won't be absorbed by taxpayers, said the minister.
Murphy is serving as trustee of the province's hospitals until the new health system structure is fully implemented on Sept. 1.