The Alward government is being accused of trying to silence New Brunswick's doctors who are critical of Progressive Conservative policies.
The Opposition Liberals say new proposed bylaws for the two regional health authorities amount to a gag order.
Liberal health critic Bill Fraser obtained a copy of the Horizon Health Network bylaws, dated April 12 and marked "final."
Under the bylaws, medical staff would be prohibited from any "acts, omissions, statements, demeanour or professional or personal conduct which is, or is reasonably likely to be, detrimental to the RHA," Fraser told reporters outside the legislature Friday.
He contends the ban on detrimental statements will prevent doctors from speaking out about how government policies affect health care.
"They're the people with all the expertise and all the knowledge. So it's very clear to me that those are the people you ought to be engaging, not putting a muzzle on," said Fraser.
Health Minister Madeleine Dubé said the bylaws are still a work in progress – although Fraser’s copy is marked "final."
Dubé said until they come to her for approval, she has no opinion on whether doctors should be free to speak publicly on medical issues.
"They'll formalize the document and then it'll be sent it to me, and then I'll have a position then, for sure," she said.
'Advocacy for patients and the ability to offer valued input to system administrators are critical for physicians.'—Dr. Robert Rae, New Brunswick Medical Society president
The New Brunswick Medical Society recently received a copy of the draft Horizon Health Network bylaws, according to president Dr. Robert Rae.
"We are reviewing them closely and are taking the time to collect input from physicians across the province," he said in a statement.
"Advocacy for patients and the ability to offer valued input to system administrators are critical for physicians," said Rae.
"We look forward to being consulted by the Department of Health and Horizon Health Network to achieve a fully transparent outcome."
It’s unclear if the bylaws for the French-language health network, Vitalité, will have the same restrictions.