Health Care: It is an EQUAL Right

I was at the Georges Dumont Hospital this morning, and saw a number of signs (on hospital property?) related to our provincial election, reminding Premier Graham the French-language health care is a right.

I would like to remind the creators of those signs that health care is an equal right, and as such should be provided equally, fairly, and effectively to all citizens of the province regardless of language or any other characteristic. Unfortunately, this is not correctly the case in New Brunswick. We currently have two health care systems in the province – one of which is bilingual, and the other essentially unilingual French.

As we all know, our health care system (not just ours, but nation-wide) is at real risk of collapsing under its own cost. It is unsustainable as it currently exists. Add to that a situation in which there are two health care systems, each with its own management, bureaucracy, and other costs. With additional complexities created in trying standardize procedures and processes, and in establishing province wide programs to improve health care.

Why do we have this situation? Is this required in order to provide equal health care in both languages? NO. This situation is perpetuated purely to stroke the ego of one group within the province.

Do not misunderstand me (and don’t you dare misquote me!) – I fully support equal health care rights for everyone in the province. Does this require duplicate bureaucracies? NO! Any rational, reasonable, mature groups of people should be able to come to an agreement which eliminates  unnecessary overhead, and yet maintains equal quality of service for all New Brunswickers, and does so without giving one group in the province preferential treatment over others.


8 Replies to “Health Care: It is an EQUAL Right”

  1. A lot of things can be made to work. When you’re part of the minority and your parents and grandparents were made to suffer injustices as a result, it’s probably easier to be nervous about those suggestions as well.



    1. Everybody’s ancestors were oppressed at some point, but some groups (or subsets) wear it as a badge – while it is important to be keenly aware of the past, it is wrong to let it constrain the future.


      1. I’d argue it isn’t about constraining the future. And perhaps all groups have been oppressed at some point; I’d say that’s besides the point.

        Minorities – in any society – have always had to fight for their rights, and must be vigilant to ensure they continue benefiting from them.


      2. Fair enough, I remain convinced that the current approach is ineffective, and creates a (real or apparent) situation where one group gets “special” priveledges.



  2. Fred,
    I entirely agree that health care is an equal right.

    However, I am curious regarding your comment that there is a bilingual system and a francophone system. Particularly, give that as a francophone, I would have said the opposite – there is a bilingual system and an anglophone system.

    I’m interested in knowing more about how and where our different perspectives have flown from. Can you elaborate?



    1. Hi Remi,

      Perhaps our differing perspectives are an indication that the current approach is failing?

      As a health care consumer, all of my experience and hence my perspective comes from the Moncton area. When I go to the Moncton Hospital, I am greeted almost always in both official languages. As I listen to the conversations around me (not eavesdropping, of course!), I hear about an equal amount of interaction in both languages. Wehn I go to Dumont, I am greeted in French. I am served in French. All (or most) of the signage is in French. While ALL facilities are REQUIRED BY LAW to provide service in both languages, Dumont is an extremly Anglo-unfriendly environment.

      At a higher level, provincially we operate two regional health authorities. One of them is bilingual in its operations, the other French-only (for the most part). RHA A is also allowed to discriminate in it senior management selection such that those selected don’t just have to speak French, the must BE Francophone.

      My main point, though, is that the current system is inefficient, and encourages isolationism between French and English, and needs to be changed.



      1. I don’t know how typical your experience at the Dumont is; I usually go there, I don’t recall seeing strictly francophone signs. You can get bilingual service, though – in fact, Ron Smith (who I believe you know and is very much not a francophone) mentioned to me already that he prefers going to the Dumont with his kids, because he believes they tend to see kids more quickly.

        I’d suggest if you’re met by someone speaking french and you would rather not, reply in English. In New Brunswick – particularly in greater Moncton – most francophones can speak English. They will typically respond in kind.

        (The fact that most francophones speak English but a smaller percentage of anglophones also speak French is at the root of many francophones’ observations that health care services are normally either bilingual or English.)

        The main concern that I have with the idea of combining French and English provincial health boards is best illustrated with a historical example.

        At the turn of the 20th century, schools were managed per region by a single board, responsible for both French and English schools. The same schools – and often the same classrooms – served both linguistic groups. If there was a single anglophone student in the class, all textbooks were in English.

        This changed in the 1960s. Once Acadians had a hand in the direction and management of the school system for their kids, they were able to ensure their kids were taught in French and that their rights were respected.

        To be sure, health care is not education – but I would nonetheless have a similar worry. If francophones are not able to help determine and manage French health care delivery, many fear that service delivery in French will suffer over time.



      2. Hi Remi – I spent about 7 months in the last year working in health care, and my office was in the Dumont, so much of my experience stems from that. I also had a chance to visit many of the hospitals around the province.

        I actually disagree with separate school systems as well – I agree that it has been done badly in the past, but that does not mean that it cannot be made to work.


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