Tories continue tough Medavie talk with threat of cancelling ambulance contract
Liberal throne speech was the topic for this edition of the Political Panel Podcast
A Tory government would give Medavie Health Services six months to improve the provincial ambulance service or cancel its contract with the New Brunswick government, according to a Progressive Conservative MLA.
Newly elected Mary Wilson announced the proposed deadline Thursday, the same day PC Leader Blaine Higgs announced the Ambulance New Brunswick operator would get a week to find a solution for the paramedic shortage and ambulance delays.
The clock would start on both timelines the day Higgs becomes premier, assuming the Liberal throne speech is defeated and the Tories can gain the confidence of the House to form government.
"They've got to prove to New Brunswickers they've produced better services," Wilson, the MLA for Oromocto-Fredericton-Lincoln, said on the CBC New Brunswick Political Panel Podcast.
Wilson could not say what the measuring stick would be for Medavie to show their services have improved, but she did say the government would take on any financial penalty for breaking the contract as well as the extra costs of absorbing the ambulance service — and perhaps extra-mural care, she said — into the public system.
"I don't think you can put a dollar sign to health-care and emergency services and upset families when ambulances aren't showing up at the door," Wilson said.
What began as a broad discussion of Tuesday's Liberal throne speech turned into how government can resolve an underperforming ambulance service and navigate the associated language issue.
The Liberals promised in their speech to send the issue to an all-party committee of MLAs for recommendations and report back by Dec. 15 — a reasonable amount of time to dissect a complex issue in a collaborative manner, said Liberal MLA Robert McKee.
"We're not going to show up here with a unilateral decision on what to do," McKee said.
People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin said the issue needs to be addressed immediately and another study further delays taking action. He said the throne speech was littered with reviews and studies and committees to examine various issues.
"When I see that stuff, I cringe," Austin said. "I was elected to make change, to help drive that change. What I don't want to see is just more paperwork or studies to go in a great warehouse of government studies to collect dust."
Green Party Leader David Coon said Medavie has had years to show improvement and offer appropriate bilingual services, but the company that "profits off our health-care system" has failed to do so.
He said it's time to bring ambulances and extra-mural care back into the public system. He said the regional authorities have shown they can offer health services in both official languages and "they can make this work."