Commentary – Blaine Higgs

Health Minister Victor Boudreau is the latest Gallant government minister to try spinning straw into gold on the editorial pages. The minister’s Saturday commentary extolling the supposed virtues of the recent health transfer arrangement dictated by the Trudeau government omitted a great deal of factual information.

For starters, this was not a negotiation it was a script handed to Gallant to break the solidarity of the provinces.

As I have already stated, the Gallant government has accepted the same formula that the former Harper government put in place when Minister Boudreau’s Liberals were in opposition. While in opposition in 2013, Minister Boudreau and other current Ministers criticized the formula heavily and stated that we would lose up to 1 billion dollars over 10 years with the drop from annual increases of 6% to 3%.

In a press release from the Liberal Opposition (http://nbliberal.ca/post-news/alward-tories-failing-to-stand-up-for-new-brunswick-healthcare/ ), distributed ironically on April fool’s Day 2014 we read:

“The Harper government is changing federal funding for healthcare, and these changes will significantly hurt New Brunswick,” explained Opposition Health Critic Donald Arseneault.”

The release continues:

“Some people have calculated that these changes could cost New Brunswick up to $715-million in transfer payments from Ottawa over the next 10 years,” added Arseneault. “That’s more than the entire annual budget of the Vitalité Health Network.”

So what has changed since April 1, 2014 and January 14, 2017?

Most notably the colour of political parties occupying the provincial and federal government offices.

The people of New Brunswick have witnessed a formula that was condemned when put forward by one federal government magically become a formula that will “meet the healthcare needs of New Brunswick families in partnership with the Trudeau government.”

Worse still is the fact that the provinces collectively rejected an offer from Trudeau with a formula that was actually higher than this.

Well-respected New Brunswick economist Richard Saillant, director of the Donald J. Savoie Institute at University of Moncton, has described the new health accord signed by the Gallant government as a “major cut”. Mr. Saillant stated in media that “It’s quite ironic that the premier of the province that’s oldest and fastest aging is the first one to break rank and take a major cut in funding for health care”.

Mr. Saillant’s reference to ‘breaking-ranks’ is another act of the Premier that concerns me. Will the other provincial leaders feel motivated to assist New Brunswick in seeing the Energy East pipeline project become a reality after being abandoned by Premier Gallant in a show of obedience and loyalty to Justin Trudeau and Domenic Leblanc? It seems doubtful.

It is just this sort of hyper-partisan behavior, putting politics ahead of people that has led to such cynicism among the citizens of New Brunswick.  I hear every day from many like-minded people who know that things must change.‎ That is why I want to build a far-reaching coalition of concerned New Brunswickers from all walks of life and political stripes, who want to fix our province in a sustainable way. It is time to put our province first and politics second and I need your help. Please join me.

Blaine Higgs

Leader PCNB