Hundreds of New Brunswickers joined marches across the province in support of front-line health-care workers.
The marches were organized by CUPE N.B. and were held in 13 locations across the province, including Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton.
"They need recognition, and they also need formal recognition from this government in terms of better wages for public workers, also better protections and sick days for the folks without unions," said union spokesperson Simon Ouellette.
Ouellette said the march took on added importance because of staffing shortages that have plagued the health-care system in the province over the past year.
Emergency rooms at several hospitals have encountered long wait times, reductions in services and some temporary closures.
The ER at Sackville Memorial Hospital had to close for weekends nights during the summer because of a lack of nurses.
Meanwhile, the Campbellton Regional Hospital had to close its intensive care unit this week to keep the ER running.
"Until we take care of our front-line workers, unionized or not, we won't be able to grow as a province," said Ouellette. "I say grow not just in the economic sense, but also in the … overall well-being of every citizen in New Brunswick."
Tiffenny Lloyd, who works at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton, said the province has talked a big game when it comes to praising front-line workers, but that talk seems to disappear at the bargaining table.
"We want the premier to be serious," said Lloyd. "He called us heroes and he says he appreciates our work, but we want to see it in writing."
They union is in the midst of collective barganing talks with the province. They have given the province 100 days — nine are left — to agree to a "fair deal" according to the union website, before they "will have to mount a province-wide coordinated action."
The last contract expired in 2018.