Doctors’ court challenge to be heard on June 12

The President of the New Brunswick Medical Society advised the public today that an application to the court has officially been filed with the Court of Queen’s Bench in Fredericton. It is scheduled to be heard on June 12.

“Since January of 2012, New Brunswick’s doctors have done the right thing by offering to partner with the Province,” explained Dr Robert Desjardins. “The Minister of Health pretends that he is willing to talk with physicians, but doctors know that listening is just as important as talking. This has become a matter of trust.”

The detailed affidavit, signed by Dr Desjardins, clearly shows the Medical Society’s repeated attempts to partner with the province on a sustainable health system, and their eventual decision to reluctantly pursue the matter in court. “It’s a sad state of affairs when we have to ask a judge to make the Alward Government keep their promise to New Brunswick’s doctors.”

After government delayed negotiations and then negotiated for months without ever proposing any cuts to Medicare, the Alward Government told doctors it must find millions in savings – or they would cap patient services. After receiving this ultimatum only 36 days before the budget, doctors came to the government and offered to waive their own proposals, expedite the timeline, and only discuss the government’s short-sighted cuts to care. The response was clear: the Alward Government would cap Medicare and break their promise to doctors.

“We asked the simple question repeatedly: will you keep your promise to doctors?” explained Dr Desjardins. “What we got back was planned and canned, and clearly designed for headlines – a commitment to work with doctors, but only starting after our agreement was torn up.”

 “Our system, since the beginning of Medicare, is built on trust – be it patients and their doctors, or governments and their health care providers,” Desjardins said. “How can doctors trust this Government when they are willing to ignore their own signed agreements and platform commitments?”

New Brunswick’s doctors have filed their challenge with the intent to ensure government abides by their signed agreement to a 0% increase in the Medicare budget. Doctors remain open, and have consistently demonstrated their commitment, to a long-term conversation about health care sustainability in the context of a formal legislated negotiations process.

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Founded in 1867, the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) is the professional association representing all physicians in New Brunswick. It is a provincial division of the Canadian Medical Association. Its twin goals are to represent and serve physicians, and advocate for the health of New Brunswickers. Over a hundred New Brunswick doctors sit on our Board and Committees, representing the 1600 doctors in the province.

Media contact: Andrew MacLean, New Brunswick Medical Society:
Contact for spokesperson availability.