The second in a series of stories this week on the four New Brunswick Liberal leadership candidates
New Brunswick needs more doctors and nurses, and Shediac Bay-Dieppe MLA Robert Gauvin wants to make it easier for internationally trained health-care workers to fill those roles — if he's given the chance.
"We have hundreds of people in New Brunswick right now that come from other countries," Gauvin told CBC Radio's Information Morning in the Summer.
"They would be able to work in British Columbia and Ontario in health care, but they cannot in New Brunswick because ... of red tape."
Gauvin said nurses in New Brunswick need relief from staffing shortages immediately before "the elastic snaps."
He said British Columbia and Ontario appear to have a better plan for hiring internationally trained professionals, and said it's "not logical" to him that officials in New Brunswick aren't calling officials in those provinces for advice.
Asked about the bureaucracy that might be slowing that down, Gauvin acknowledged consultations must be done with health-care unions, but also blamed Premier Blaine Higgs' government for the state of the province's health-care system.
"The relationship with this present government and people in health care, OK, is very difficult. So that's one reason why people are leaving [the health-care field]."
From Progressive Conservative to Liberal
The Progressive Conservative-turned-Liberal MLA is in a four-way leadership race, running against Susan Holt, who was a top adviser to former premier Brian Gallant, former Liberal cabinet minister and MLA Donald Arseneault, and former Tobique—Mactaquac MP T.J. Harvey.
A winner will be declared when the votes by Liberal party members are tallied on Saturday.
Gauvin said he "feels right at home" with the Liberals, and shares the party's values of inclusion and open-mindedness.
But in 2018, Gauvin won the Shippagan-Lamèque-Miscou riding as a PC candidate, and was later appointed deputy premier and minister of tourism with Higgs' minority government.
His allegiance to the party ended in 2020, when he quit to sit as an Independent MLA after his government proposed cuts to rural emergency rooms.
He ran as a Liberal that fall, winning the riding of Shediac Bay-Dieppe.
"Like I said, I feel right at home here. I'm very happy and looking forward to move ahead with the team and be able to take on the PC government in 2024," he said.
Gauvin said his other priorities include environmental protections and improving the education system.
"I would bring back trades in schools. We have taken trades out of school. A generation later, we have problems staffing in those jobs in New Brunswick," he said.