Government & policy
NB reorganizes, will create 2 health
FREDERICTON – New
Brunswick has announced it will consolidate its eight Regional Health
Authorities into two authorities, a transition that is scheduled for
completion by Sept. 1. As well, the province has created a new public
sector company to more effectively implement and manage selected,
non-clinical services that are currently carried out by the health
New Brunswick Health Minister Michael Murphy also announced the creation
of the New Brunswick Health Council, with a dual mandate to provide
residents with opportunities for meaningful input and dialogue on health
matters, and to ensure that the healthcare system is accountable.
(Pictured, from left to right: Gordon Gilman, CEO of the non-clinical
shared services agency; Stéphane Robichaud, CEO of the NB Health
Council; Health Minister Michael Murphy; Andrée Robichaud, CEO of
Regional Health Authority A; and Donald Peters, CEO of Regional Health
“These changes will result in a more effective, adaptive and accountable
healthcare system – one that contributes to our goal of a
self-sufficient New Brunswick,” Murphy said. “We’re removing barriers to
patient care that have existed between regions; ensuring that residents
are engaged in their healthcare system and know how it is performing;
and directing more of our health budget into patient care, with less
into administrative and non-clinical functions.
Murphy said that clinical services will be maintained and enhanced as
the system transitions to two Regional Health Authorities.
“All our hospitals and beds will stay open and all our clinical services
and programs will be maintained,” Murphy said. “This will improve
patient care by removing barriers that now exist between regions.”
Murphy said that having two Regional Health Authorities will better meet
the clinical needs of New Brunswickers by providing them with access to
a larger network of services and healthcare providers within their
health region, and by removing administrative barriers to care between
It also addresses the duplication of backroom functions within the
Regional Health Authorities, and the unhealthy competition that exists
among the eight health authorities.
Murphy said that the individuals who have served on the boards of the
Regional Health Authorities are not responsible for the problems in the
“I think they have done their best within a faulty system, and I am
grateful to them for their voluntary service,” Murphy said. “But after
listening to New Brunswickers and viewing the situation myself for more
than a year, I have concluded that the design of the system was flawed
from the outset. It did not promote partnership or a consistent level of
care that New Brunswickers deserve.
“New Brunswickers must receive the same high level of care no matter
where they live,” Murphy said. “Today, we have wait lists for services
that are a year in one part of the province and only a few weeks in
another area. We have certain drugs that are being paid for publicly in
one region but not in another. This is not acceptable to me as minister
Regional Health Authority A, which will be based in Bathurst, will be
responsible for providing services in the areas formerly served by
Regional Health Authority 1 (Beauséjour), Regional Health Authority 4 (Edmundston),
Regional Health Authority 5 (Campbellton), and Regional Health Authority
Andrée Robichaud, who has served as associate deputy minister of health,
was named by Murphy as chief executive officer of Regional Health
Authority A. Aldéa Landry of Moncton is chair of the board of directors.
Regional Health Authority B will be based in Miramichi, and will be
responsible for the areas formerly served by Regional Health Authority 1
South-East, Regional Health Authority 2 (Saint John), Regional Health
Authority 3 (Fredericton), and Regional Health Authority 7 (Miramichi).
Donn Peters, formerly CEO of the South-East Regional Health Authority,
will be CEO of Regional Health Authority B. John Laidlaw of Saint John
is chair of the board of directors.
Each Regional Health Authority will have 17 voting members who will be
selected based on pre-established competencies and skills, and appointed
by lieutenant-governor in council. As a result, there will be no
Regional Health Authority elections this May as had been scheduled.
Board members of the two new Regional Health Authorities will be
compensated for their service.
“This move to competency-based professional boards mirrors what is
happening across the country with a growing number of not-for-profit and
governmental organizations,” Murphy said. “We need people with the right
skill sets to carry out governance of our $2-billion health system.”
Murphy said that the creation of the New Brunswick Health Council
fulfils a commitment made in the government’s Charter for Change.
“The independent health council will ensure that New Brunswickers have a
real voice on healthcare, and will keep them fully informed on the
performance of the health system,” Murphy said. “The health council
doesn’t provide direct health services to New Brunswickers, and this
guarantees that it can present an unbiased view of how well or how
poorly the health system is serving New Brunswickers.”
The health council will be headquartered in Moncton and will have a
board of directors with up to 16 members, of whom half will be community
representatives, and half will represent policy makers, health managers,
health professionals and academic institutions. The chair of the council
is Rino Volpé, while Stéphane Robichaud, formerly a vice-president with
the Beauséjour Regional Health Authority, is health council CEO.
Murphy also announced the creation of a new public sector company to
assume responsibility for a variety of non-clinical services now carried
out by the Regional Health Authorities. The company will be based in
Gordon Gilman, formerly an assistant deputy minister in the Department
of Health, will be CEO, while Roxanne Fairweather of Saint John was
named chair of the board of directors.
A non-clinical review examined the $250 million spent annually by
Regional Health Authorities on goods and services not directly related
to providing clinical care.
“As this review showed, we have costly duplication of non-clinical
services in all health regions,” Murphy said. “For example, there are
eight individually managed purchasing departments and eight payroll
Non-clinical services being transferred to the new shared services
• Materials management; and
• Regional Health Authority and applicable Department of Health
information technology services.
• Biomedical engineering; and
• Energy retrofitting.
Savings will be realized from consolidating the management of services,
standardizing processes and products, and leveraging greater critical
mass in the procurement of goods and services.
“I want to make very clear that we are not looking at reducing jobs to
achieve major savings,” Murphy said. “While there will be a minimal
number of job reductions over time, this will be done through retraining
The change is expected to generate savings of $4.6 million a year within
three years, and $19.4 million annually within five years. Savings will
be directed into new and enhanced information and technology systems,
including those needed to create the One Patient One Record vision.
All existing contracts with employees and suppliers will be honoured,
and local purchasing will continue at current levels.
Murphy said that the structural changes will lay the groundwork for the
introduction of a new health plan in a few weeks.
For more information on these changes, visit the Department of Health
website at http://www.gnb.ca/health.