Horizon chair says she was pushed out by health minister
Grace Losier says she was told she could quit or be fired
The Liberal-appointed chair of the Horizon Health Network's board has resigned at the request of Progressive Conservative Health Minister Ted Flemming.
Grace Losier, the mayor of Grand Bay-Westfield and a Liberal party supporter, submitted a letter of resignation to Flemming on Thursday. She told him in the letter, obtained by CBC News, that she was resigning "as you had requested."
Losier told CBC News that someone working for Flemming had given her the choice of resigning or being fired.
"That's politics for some," Losier said. "I always like to measure investment by skill, so I guess that wouldn't necessarily be my way forward."
Losier said she would "suspect" the fact she was appointed by the previous Liberal government was the reason she was asked to quit.
But, she added, "I really do believe that a minister has a right to run his own department, and as such, I clearly said that to the minister, and I wish him all the best. I do. New Brunswickers need someone with both hands on the wheel."
Health Department spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane said that Flemming had not asked for the resignation of Michelyne Paulin, the board chair for the Vitalité Health Network, the province's other health authority.
In a written statement, Flemming thanked Losier for her service to Horizon and pointed out that under provincial legislation, "the board chairs of the regional health authorities are appointed by, and serve at the pleasure of, the Minister of Health."
Losier was appointed to the board and to the position of chair in June 2016 by then-Liberal health minister Victor Boudreau. She was also the Liberal candidate in Grand Bay-Westfield in the 1999 provincial election.
She pointed out that she was appointed in 2016 to replace an appointee of the previous PC government who had been allowed to serve his full four-year term. Losier's term would have expired in 2020.
Seven members of the Horizon board are appointed and eight are elected during local government elections every four years.
Leaving a 'committed' board
Losier said she didn't think her departure would affect how the Horizon board operates.
"A board has many members besides its chair," she said. "We have many competent members whose only concern is to serve and provide better health care to New Brunswickers. They're very engaged and very committed and fine individuals."
In her letter, Losier told Flemming that challenges facing Horizon, including aging infrastructure and staff retention, "are well looked after" by CEO Karen McGrath and other executives.
She said Flemming was inheriting "an engaged, committed and knowledgeable" board that has made its best efforts to help people be healthy.