Jim O'Neill Feb 23, 2020
reporter Verified

MLA Conroy responds to Liberal "fear mongering"

Conroy calls announcement by Vickers and Harris fear mongering and a desperate grasp at power that Miramichi will not fool Miramichiers. Conroy says services and regional status of hospital will remain as long as she is MLA.

Two weeks ago the Higgs government walked back some healthcare reforms in 6 rural areas in New Brunswick that would have seen improved primary care and reduced wait times for patients at the expense of overnight closures (10pm to 8am) of  emergency rooms.  The CEO’s of the regional health authorities made presentations at the legislature last week and confirmed the reforms had been discussed for several years and are needed.  The government admitted it was communicated poorly with inadequate planning for how the plan would be carried out and still endure the safety of New Brunswickers.

The minority government Conservatives lost a member over the issue, and the Liberals are promising to topple the government at the first opportunity when the legislature sits again in March.   Before Higgs walked back the reforms, the Liberals promised to reverse them if elected, but offered no solution for the imminent healthcare challenges Horizon and Vitalite are predicting. 

Today, the Peoples Alliance issued a press release responding to an announcement by Liberals that she called inaccurate and fear mongering.  Earlier in the day the office of the Official Opposition released a statement warning that services at the Miramichi Regional Hospital would be cut  in future healthcare reforms.

Conroy and the People’s Alliance Leader called the move desperate and untrue.  

In a press release issued this afternoon, Conroy says Liberal leader Kevin Vickers and Miramichi Bay Neguac MLA Lisa Harris are attempting to invoke fear by saying the Miramichi Regional Hospital is in jeopardy in an announcement made earlier today.

“At no time has there been any announcements made to any changes regarding services at the Miramichi Hospital, and this is a sad attempt at fear mongering, and shows the pressure they are under to try to win back this seat.”

Conroy says she has been diligently working to ensure the Miramichi Hospital continues to operate and provide vital services to the people who live in the area. She says that she and her caucus members of the  People’s Alliance have significant influence over the government decisions including healthcare services, and the Liberals have none. “

“The regional hospital in Miramichi will retain its status and its ER will remain intact as long as I am working for the people in this riding as its MLA.”  

“Health care can be a touchy subject as we have witnesses these past few weeks.  But people in Miramichi are smarter than this,” Conroy said. “They know when they are being manipulated.  The Liberals lost this riding when people here decided the status quo was no longer acceptable, and this fear mongering is not going to change that,” she added.

In the party press release People’s Alliance leader Kris Austin dismissed the Liberal announcement as nothing more than another tired attempt by the Liberal party to stoke unfounded fears to try and regain control.  

“This is the best that Mr. Vickers and Ms. Harris can come up with, and it’s clear to me they are grasping at straws, and have no real plans for the betterment of this province’s healthcare system,” Mr. Austin stated.

The future of the Miramichi hospital uncertain 

Miramichi (February 24, 2020 – Office of the Offical Opposition) - Liberal leader Kevin Vickers and Miramichi Bay Neguac MLA Lisa Harris are expressing concerns about the future of the Miramichi hospital if Blaine Higgs is allowed to continue with his plans to cut health care. 

Earlier this week, it was made clear that Higgs’ proposed healthcare reform, which would see the removal of acute care beds and the closure of overnight emergency services in six rural communities, is only phase one of a larger undisclosed plan. 

Higgs has said he is working from a plan that has been around for years. The plan presented to the previous Liberal government included closing the Miramichi Hospital ER overnight and eliminating some services offered by the hospital. 

“Drastic plans like this one have been presented to governments in the past, including our previous Liberal government,” Harris said. “I've seen the major cuts that are proposed for Miramichi and I made it clear that it would not happen under my watch. The hospital in Miramichi would no longer be a regional hospital. 

“It’s no secret that Premier Higgs has been attacking rural areas, he even lost his Deputy Premier because of it,” said Harris. “I am afraid of what is to come for Miramichi under this government. We are not second class citizens and have a right to the same level of healthcare as everyone else in this province.” 

Since the last budget, the Official Opposition has questioned the government repeatedly in the Legislature on potential cuts to healthcare services, most recently in December 2019. The answer was always the same : there will be no cuts or reduction of services. 

The first phase of cuts show the Conservatives have not been honest with New Brunswickers about their plans for health care. 

“Obviously we can’t trust what this government says when it comes to health care cuts,” added Vickers. “We know the Miramichi hospital was targeted for cuts in the past. And we know that’s the plan Blaine Higgs is using as a blueprint for his health care cuts. 

“I was raised and live in the Miramichi region, I know the realities we face and how important the hospital is to people here,” said Vickers. “My Liberal government will never implement such drastic cuts, and that is a promise.” 


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