The head of the New Brunswick Nurses Union says pending job cuts in health services across the province must be in administration and not on the front line.

New Brunswick could already be facing a critical shortage of nurses, with 45 per cent eligible to retire, said president Marilyn Quinn.

recent advertisement to lure experienced New Brunswick nurses to Nova Scotia should also serve as a warning, she said.


Marilyn Quinn, president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union, said nearly half of the nurses in the province are eligible for retirement. (CBC)

"We already have other provinces trying to recruit nurses from this province. We have nursing students leaving the province because there is no permanent work, going to other provinces. We have to be competitive," said Quinn.

"We need to know that the students graduating today, that I'm told have not been offered permanent jobs, are offered permanent jobs. We need to keep them here."

Last week, Capital Health, which represents hospitals in Nova Scotia, placed a full page ad in a New Brunswick newspaper looking for intensive care, operating room and emergency room nurses.

The Vitalit√© Health Network plans to cut its workforce by 400 jobs or six per cent over the next three years as a way to save $24 million a year, officials have said.

The health network has 6,728 positions.

Health Minister Ted Flemming has recently commented that the province could get by with 15 emergency rooms instead of the 22 it has now.

The nurses union, which represents 6,200 nurses across the province, wants to have a say in any changes to the health care system, Quinn said.