Issue: Spring 2024

On February 20th, in anticipation of the upcoming release of the provincial budget near the end of March and with the looming possibility of snap election call in April, the NBMS escalated its calls for government to invest in health-care reform by launching the Demand Action pre-budget campaign.

This campaign is based around four pillars, which align with areas identified as needing priority funding. The pillars are primary care, which includes improving access to family physicians and ensuring remuneration is competitive with other provinces; a robust health human resource strategy featuring enhanced retention and recruitment efforts including a concrete plan to replace retiring physicians; increased focus on the social determinants of health, especially in terms of addressing the impact of housing instability on health outcomes; and modernizing surgical management delivery in order to reduce wait times for surgeries and other procedures.

Promotion of the campaign included public facing social media ads on Meta as well as organic Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and LinkedIn posts encouraging patients to visit the campaign web page and Kudoboard to share how the current state of healthcare is affecting their lives. The campaign has proven very successful thus far, with the Meta ads receiving over 190,000 views, more that 6,000 people visiting the campaign website, and over 150 New Brunswickers sharing their health-care stories via the Kudoboard.

For members, the NBMS developed a comprehensive media kit, featuring an overview of the campaign, key messages to use when discussing these issues, posters to display in physician offices, social media graphics, and a wearable pin.

We also encouraged members to submit their own testimonials on the state of New Brunswick healthcare here. Feedback received from patients and physicians is helping inform our messaging and support our advocacy efforts during this pivotal time.

Campaign Key Messages

Primary Care

Over 80,000 New Brunswickers are currently on the NB Health Link, waiting for a family physician. Based on current trends, that number could reach 100,000 by the end of 2024.

For family physicians, an increasingly challenging work environment is leading them to retire early, cut their hours, or simply leave the province.

What we know:

  • Due to our complex patient population, it takes two to three new physicians to replace one retiring physician.
  • New Brunswick family physicians are among the lowest paid in Canada, ranking eighth in the country.
  • Increases were recently announced in British ColumbiaNova Scotia, and Manitoba, where earnings are set to increase by up to 20%.
  • Saskatchewan and Alberta announced one-time stabilization investments in their family practices.

What we demand:

  • A feasible short-term bridge to stabilize primary care, while we work together on a long-term strategy. We cannot and should not wait for an election, the need is urgent.

Health Human Resource Strategy

New Brunswick’s recruitment efforts are not keeping pace with other provinces in our region.

What we know:

  • 40% of physicians are considering a reduction in their practices.
  • We need at least eighty more net new family physicians just to take care of the 80,000 patients currently stranded on NB Health Link.
  • Over the next 10 years, if 75% of physicians aged 60+ retireat least 200 more physicians will be required to replace them.
  • Nova Scotia offers physicians more generous incentives, and their programs are better developed.
  • New Brunswick physicians who train medical learners are paid up to five times less than other provinces.

What we demand:

  • New Brunswick needs more competitive recruitment incentives if we’re going to address this crisis.

Social Determinants of Health

Safe and affordable housing is key to a healthy New Brunswick. Access to adequate, safe, accessible, and affordable housing makes it easier to get a job, and to access health care services and community supports.

What we know:

  • Two in five New Brunswickers worry about keeping a roof over their head every day.
  • Increased investment in affordable housing for the province is critical.
  • New Brunswick needs more public housing unitsfaster.

What we demand:

  • Build 500 public housing units this year, instead of the planned 380.
  • Create a plan to build at least 2,500 more public housing units by 2025.

Modernize Surgical Management Delivery

New Brunswick must reduce surgical wait times, not just for hip and knee replacements, but for all procedures.

What we know:

  • Even with recent investments in hip and knee surgeries, New Brunswickers are still waiting twice as long as other Canadians for those interventions.
  • It’s not enough to realign existing resources and force other patients to wait for their needed surgeries, we need to transform the system and increase overall capacity.

What we demand:

  • The New Brunswick Government needs to invest in more operating room time, updated equipment, and modernize assessment, treatment, triage and scheduling practices.

Jim Johnson, Communications Specialist