When the health care system doesn't have the resources it needs to serve the province, the ramification can be costly.
Fredericton (09 Jan. 2015) — Spending millions on infrastructure is part of the provincial government's plan to improve New Brunswick. In fact, it was one of the most discussed topics during the September 2014 election.
Support for infrastructure important but investment in the people who work across New Brunswick is essential
While improving highways and aging buildings, as well as construction of new ones is a need, we must not lose sight of what makes New Brunswick work — people. The province is built on the backs of its hardworking residents, many of whom are members of the New Brunswick Union (NBU/NUPGE).
While bricks and mortar are important, it's the people who work within those buildings and on the roads that are essential to this province.
Without enough experienced, qualified health care workers, the health of the entire province suffers
Take for instance the health care sector. While the province recently announced plans to construct a mental health treatment centre for youth, the question remains how will the facility cut down on the wait times currently facing the system. In 2012, The Daily Gleaner reported an eight-month wait list for children to get into the mental health centre.
Without an increase in staff to tackle long wait lists, a new centre may not result in anything more than shifting the current problems to a new building.
The lack of resources, particularly in staffing, has shown up in other areas of the health care system. In 2013, 500 patients in need of physiotherapy at the Miramichi Regional Hospital were encouraged to find their own services outside the system due to staffing shortages.
The ramifications of these issues are huge for patients, staff and the province. For patients, not being treated in a timely manner can result in conditions worsening and a person's health deteriorating. The strain on the patient and family will likely increase, which could result in more problems.
For staff, it makes doing their job very difficult. Caseloads are heavier and patients' issues can be much more severe as the backlog leads to worsened conditions. This places a large amount of strain on staff, both physically and mentally. As well, patient frustration with the health care system is sometimes directed at staff.
More cost-efficient to prevent health care crises than to pay the expensive consequences of an ill-equipped system
As for the province, the worse the problem gets, the more it costs to fix it. The province is in a tough economic situation, but the costs of a reactive health care system — that is essentially putting out fires each day and the one that workeres currently operate under in New Brunswick — is much higher than a preventative model. In order to work towards a preventative model, the current backlog needs to be reduced, new and innovative ways to treat patients must be found, and New Brunswickers need to be educated on the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.
These changes can be achieved by making sure there are enough qualified people working in the health care system, not the minimum needed to maintain the status quo.
Bricks and mortar are good, but to truly help the people of New Brunswick more qualified professionals working inside the buildings are needed.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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