Since the management of extramural services was privatised, the people of New Brunswick have lost services in their homes and in their local schools.
Ms. Mitton: It concerns me that these services have been transferred. Some people who were previously able to get their services at home now need to travel to have those services, and that can be a real issue for people. I have also heard that there has been an exodus of nurses from the Extra-Mural Program since Medavie took over. Dr. Hubert Dupuis of Égalité santé has said that this has created an ice jam of backlogs in our hospitals because patients cannot be released to receive care at home through the Extra-Mural Program due to a shortage of extra-mural nurses. This only further exacerbates the overcrowding in our hospitals when the Extra-Mural Program could provide an exceptional level of care at home that would be better for the patient. Can the Minister of Health tell me how many of the province’s 700 extra-mural nurses have left the service since Medavie took over on January 5?
Hon. Mr. Bourque: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. What I can say is that the Extra-Mural Program in New Brunswick is vital to the health care system that we have here. I have said this time and time again over the past year. It is one of the crown jewels of our system. I do believe that this system has been reinforced over the past year. What I can say is that there are some staffing challenges within the Extra-Mural Program, but honestly, this is not a surprise to anyone here. There are staffing challenges throughout the health care system and throughout the health care professionals. It is not an exception with the Extra-Mural Program. What I would actually argue is that there is probably less of a shortage within the Extra-Mural Program as compared to the other . . . If you look at hospitals or other services . . . I would argue that the Extra-Mural Program is in a good state. Yes, there are challenges. We are looking at those, but I can say that those services are assured for the population that needs it. Thank you.