Improving public services requires cooperation: NBU

True collaboration doesn't exclude perspectives and ideas from those working in the field, in fact, true collaboration welcomes these.

Fredericton (01 March 2016) — The New Brunswick government is looking to place the management of two healthcare services — Extra-Mural Program (EMP) and 811 TeleCare — under Medavie EMS, says the New Brunswick Union (NBU/NUPGE).

The government currently has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Medavie to examine their options. The NBU/NUPGE represents respiratory therapists, social workers, registered dieticians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech-language pathologists working in the EMP.

NBU/NUPGE raises concerns about privatization of public health services

This would privatize a portion of the services — management — but the workers of the Extra-Mural Program and TeleCare would remain government employees and stay in the same unions, according to the discussions NBU/NUPGE has had with government officials.

The NBU/NUPGE does not support the privatization of public services. In this case, Health Minister Victor Boudreau has stated the potential change isn't a cost-cutting exercise, but rather a way to manage the programs in a more collaborative way. Minister Boudreau stated this potential change may be able to better help the five per cent of the population that use the services most often. The government has also suggested that the changes could help keep seniors in their homes longer.

Private companies are accountable to shareholders not the public

Medavie is a private company whose primary responsibility is not to the people of New Brunswick, but to its bottom line. And  there's been a lack of consultation with those who work in the EMP to gain their perspective and insights.

Front-line workers have many ideas on how to improve services, yet have not been asked for their opinion. This is made all the more discouraging when you look at another plan government is going to implement. Government has agreed to let the New Brunswick Medical Society — a professional association representing all physicians in New Brunswick — set up a non-profit company to administer a pool of family doctors.

For collaboration to work, all parties must be heard 

The new system is designed to let doctors coordinate their vacations, after-hours shifts and administrative work, with the goal of giving them more time to see patients. This makes sense as doctors understand the challenges they face. A collaborative approach in this case seems to have produced a potential solution.

The members of the NBU/NUPGE in the EMP were given no such opportunity. This means years of experience were not considered and the collaborative approach Minister Boudreau referred to in justifying the MOU with Medavie was not extended to the government's own employees. The employees could have provided an education to government members about their work and the challenges they face. And they could have recommended potential changes and improvements to the system. For instance, the government's statements regarding the MOU focus on keeping seniors in their homes longer, but don't address the paediatric side of the EMP.

Government ignores effect changes will have on children with physical and intellectual disabilities

Working with young children with physical and intellectual disabilities is part of the program, but one rarely discussed or mentioned. However, it is just as vital as caring for the elderly.

The NBU/NUPGE believes an MOU between government and a private company does not constitute collaboration. True collaboration doesn't exclude perspectives and ideas from those working in the field, in fact, true collaboration welcomes these.

NUPGE 

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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