The group that represents nursing homes in New Brunswick is calling on the Gallant government to change how it views the sector and to return to consulting with them as previous governments have done.

The New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes represents all 65 nursing homes in the province.

On Wednesday, they expressed concerns about the level of care and nutrition in their residences. They also said there was a void in consultation with the province.

"We have enjoyed a very good working relationship with the previous governments," said Michael Keating, executive director of NBANH. "Be they Liberal or Conservative."

Keating listed off a number of examples where the association and province have worked together to save the province money. He wondered why the Gallant Liberals have refused to reach out when dealing with nursing home care issues.

"We have been good corporate citizens. We have done what has been asked of us from the previous governments," he said.

Consequences will be more dire

In last month's provincial budget, Finance Minister Roger Melanson announced future changes to the health department.

Discussions with the New Brunswick Medical Society and Medavie Blue Cross are starting, to look at how to develop what Melanson called an enhanced community-based, primary health care service.

There could also be reforms to senior care and nursing home policy once the Council on Aging issues its report. The council is expected to release its report by the end of 2016.

The association said some of the changes already made will impact their residents, in particular the two per cent reduction in food funding and an increase in the number of unregulated care staff.

Keating said the group recognizes the economic stress the government is under, but warns if they don't change their approach, the consequences will be more dire.

He said New Brunswick cannot sustain itself when the current demographic of one in five people over the age of 65 morphs into one in three over the coming years.

"We need systemic change and it has to come as soon as possible and we have to work together with the stakeholders, providers of care," Keating said.

"This is a social change, not a health care crisis."