New Brunswick·Election Notebook

Liberals promise to keep nurses in N.B. with boost in salaries and tuition rebate

Party leaders are spending their Saturday making more promises as they campaign for the Sept. 14 election, just 16 days away.

Greens say they could bring in more doctors with better recruiting

New Brunswick is almost through its second week of a four-week contest to determine who will govern the province. (CBC News)

Latest

  • Liberals promise to boost salaries for nursing graduates
  • Greens would do better job recruiting doctors
  • 3 francophones run for People's Alliance
  • PCs promise to protect the environment
  • Where the leaders are today

There's no rest for the weary this weekend.

New Brunswick political party leaders have a little more than two weeks to make their case before voters cast their ballots Sept. 14.

And Saturday is no exception. The leaders will be campaigning across the province today. 

Here's what they have been saying.

Liberals would boost salaries for nursing graduates 

Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers promised Friday to make salaries for nursing graduates competitive with other Maritime provinces. 

He said about 20 per cent of nursing students are leaving New Brunswick "immediately" after they graduate. 

"We have to work together with our nurses to address this," Vickers said during a campaign visit to Fredericton. "We have to listen to what they're saying." 

Last year, New Brunswick hospitals were running 400 nurses short, and 40 per cent of those who are working now will be eligible to retire in the next four to five years.

The nurse shortage forced some hospital services to shut down in 2019, and health authorities estimate they will need to hire as many as 520 new nurses each year just to keep up.

Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers promises to improve security for nurses working in hospitals. (Maria Burgos/CBC)

"We are looking at a human resources crisis that could bring out health system to its knees."

Vickers said a Liberal government would also pursue a recruitment and retention program through tuition rebates  specifically for nursing students. A tuition rebate program for all students working in New Brunswick was cancelled under Brian Gallant's Liberal government in 2015.

Within the first 30 days of taking office, Vickers promised, the Liberals would negotiate a contract with nurses that ensured workplace safety.

Documents released by the New Brunswick Nurses Union have revealed there were more than 2,000 "code-whites" at New Brunswick hospitals in 2018. A code white is the term used when a health-care worker is under attack, and all available security is called to that unit.

"Getting beaten up should not be something they are worried about," Vickers said.

Greens say they would do better job recruiting doctors

Green Party Leader David Coon also addressed New Brunswick's shortage of health-care workers, promising to revamp the province's recruitment strategy to bring in more doctors.

Right now, 37,000 people in the province are without a doctor or nurse practitioner

Coon said the province is in a health-care crisis and called the shortage unacceptable. 

Green Party Leader David Coon promises to revamp the province's recruitment program to bring in more doctors to New Brunswick. (Maria Burgos/CBC)

More than 15,000 people without doctors live in the greater Fredericton area, where four family physicians in the Fredericton area have recently left their practices.

"Clearly, the province's recruitment strategy has been ... a complete and utter failure," Coon said outside the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton.  

Under a Green government, recruiters would visit places that have "budding new doctors" and "sell them on New Brunswick."

Doctors would be integrated into primary health-care teams alongside nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, midwives, social workers, mental health providers and dietitians, Coon said. The teams would work at community health centres across the province. 

"You would be a patient of a team, who would work together to provide the best health care services to you," he said.

Coon said he recognized this could be a seismic shift in the way health care is provided in New Brunswick, but it's the kind of practice new doctors want for a "work-life balance."

He said also services such as abortions should available in regions across the province, out of a hospital setting, and funded by Medicare.

3 francophones run for People's Alliance 

The People's Alliance says it has three francophone candidates running in this election:

  • Thomas L'Huillier in Miramichi Bay-Neguac
  • Lisa Godin in Kent South 
  • Andre Jobin in Victoria-La Vallée

The party has received backlash in the past for its stance on bilingualism in New Brunswick, questioning, for instance, the need for separate school buses for francophone and anglophone students.

The party has also opposed a requirement for bilingual paramedics in areas that are largely unilingual.

Leader Kris Austin said Friday, the day nominations for the election closed, that he is excited by the growth in the number of people who've asked to run for the People's Alliance.

The party will have candidates in 36 ridings this election. 

People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin introduces three francophone candidates running for the party. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

"When I started this party, I knew that once people understood our vision, they would become excited and want to be part of the wave of change that was very badly needed and is happening in New Brunswick," said Austin, who spent the day campaigning in Fredericton-Grand Lake, where he is seeking to become the MLA again.

PCs promise to protect the environment 

Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs boasted Friday about his government's record protecting the natural environment and said he would continue to encourage the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts.

"Our government not only delivered on our 2018 conservation platform commitments, we've gone above and beyond, introducing many positive changes to protect our woods and waterways," said Higgs.

"Many of the accomplishments we've made over the last two years are a direct result of the Department of Natural Resources having an open line with stakeholders, listening to them in unprecedent ways to shape policies and respond to ideas for improvement.

Campaigning in Saint-Léonard, Higgs said he would double conserved and protected areas in the province by the end of this year, from 4.6 per cent to 10 per cent, which he described as the largest conservation gain in the history of New Brunswick.

Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs says he's done a good job protecting the environment. (Maria Burgos/CBC)

He said the new area is the equivalent of 19 Fundy National Parks dedicated to conservation. Higgs said this will allow the province to create a bio diverse and ecologically sustainable forest where it can target very specific areas
of improvement for wildlife habitat, protected waterways, and better tracking and measurement of fish and wildlife populations.

If re-elected, Higgs also said his government would secure better control over provincial waterways, which will accelerate the province's ability to develop and implement comprehensive action plans on such critical matters as restocking and invasive species.

Higgs said his government has also introduced bundled licences and discounted licences, eliminated the fee for minor hunter licences, and opened up over 70 new lakes to ice fishing.

Government also delivered the spring turkey turkey hunt, which was scheduled this year but was postponed because of COVID-19. 

"We have something in this province that many, many countries dream about." 

Where the leaders are today

Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers will stop on Saturday at 9 a.m. at Ritchie Wharf Park in Miramichi.

Green Party Leader David Coon will make an announcement at 10:15 a.m. He will also make an announcement at 2 p.m. about private woodlots.

PC Leader Blaine Higgs will be making an announcement at 11 a.m. in Tracadie-Sheila.

People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin will be campaigning in St. Stephen.

NDP Leader Mackenzie Thomason will be campaigning but details were not available.

The leaders are taking Sunday off, according to their campaigns.

Standings at dissolution: PCs 20, Liberals 20, Greens, 3, People's Alliance 3, Independent 1, vacancies 2  

For complete coverage | Links to all New Brunswick votes 2020 stories

About the Author

Elizabeth Fraser

Reporter/Editor

Elizabeth Fraser is a reporter/editor with CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She's originally from Manitoba. Story tip? elizabeth.fraser@cbc.ca

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now