Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken says it will be very important for people to attend Thursday’s virtual public consultation session on the future of health care in the province.
“A show of numbers would be would be great,” says Aiken.
Sackville is the first community stop in the province’s virtual consultation tour in March and April.
Hear Ron Aiken in conversation on Tantramar Report:
The public consultation session will take place on Thursday, March 4 at 6:30pm. To participate in the session, people must have a tablet, smartphone or computer, and they must register online in advance. People are also able to send in their input via email to email@example.com.
Aiken says he’d like to see, “a good number of people at least attending,” though he’s not certain how the Department of Health will accommodate comments from a large number of people.
“If a lot of people start to comment, I think it can get kind of overwhelming with just a number of voices. It’s going to be interesting to see how they sort that out.”
Aiken says that if people have longer comments or personal stories to share, they should consider emailing those. For the two-hour virtual session on Thursday, he says, “just make one or two clear, crisp points and then let somebody else go.”
Aiken says he will be attending, but likely not speaking at the session, because he will be attending another meeting with the health minister and possibly the premier, along with representatives from the six communities that were targeted for cuts last February. He says he will likely have about 10 minutes to make a presentation on behalf of Sackville.
In terms of what issues residents might want to consider addressing, Aiken reassures that, “the notion of the the cuts to the ER, they have told us repeatedly now, and in writing, are off the table. They’re not being considered anymore.”
“What we have to do is move on and talk about what healthcare will look like in Sackville after this reform process goes through,” says Aiken.
“We’re presenting some notions that Sackville is already serving a function as a kind of safety valve or a pressure valve for Moncton,” says Aiken. “Because lots of people come down to Sackville from Moncton and surrounding areas to get especially emergency care, because it’s just too difficult to do it in Moncton.”
“We’re also putting forward the notion that there should be more local control on what happens to the hospital,” says Aiken, “like the old hospital boards that we used to have. Because local people can respond more quickly to local situations than a big corporation like Horizon,” he says.
Aiken says healthcare reform is layered and complex. “Trying to distill it down into a few quick ideas is very difficult,” he says. “We talked about how we should have more tele-care and online access to doctors. Well, that means we need a better internet system in New Brunswick. And so then you’re getting into the whole technical side of the internet and how well we’re serviced.”
DISCUSSION PAPER LISTS QUESTIONS FOR CONSIDERATION
For people looking for some light reading in order to prepare for Thursday’s meeting, back in January the province published a discussion paper on health care reform which is available online, and includes many questions for residents to consider.
The paper proposes its vision for “dependable, sustainable public health care” and breaks down six objectives:
- optimizing population health and well-being;
- providing access to patient-centred care;
- improving outcomes in addiction and mental health care;
- improving services for seniors;
- using digital technologies to be innovative;
- maintaining and investing in facilities and equipment.
Health minister Dorothy Shephard has said she is “committed to creating a better health-care system,” and, “open to listening to any and all ideas about how that can be accomplished.”