POLITICS

New Brunswick to contract out management of some hospital services

04/23/2015 03:09 EDT | Updated 07/20/2015 12:59 EDT
FREDERICTON - The New Brunswick government has begun negotiating with a company to take over management of dietary services, housekeeping and porters in the province's hospitals, which a union says is the first step to the privatization of health care.

Health Minister Victor Boudreau said a request for proposals was issued by the previous Progressive Conservative government and now the department is attempting to negotiate a contract.

"It is outsourcing the management of those services, bringing in new technologies, and trying to find efficiencies as best we can throughout the system," he said Thursday.

Boudreau said he expects there will be significant savings in the millions of dollars.

He doesn't know how staffing levels will be affected, but he said the union has been notified.

Norma Robinson, president of CUPE local 1252, said this is the first step towards the privatization of health care in New Brunswick and involves companies from outside the province.

"They are multinational corporations that will be taking tax dollars outside the province," she said.

She said the government has given the union 30 days' notice of intent to lay off staff, but no numbers have been discussed.

"We're at a skeleton crew. I don't see how they're going to be able to reduce staff any further," Robinson said.