Liberal leadership candidate says mandatory duties at hospitals deter doctors

·4 min read
Susan Holt, candidate for New Brunswick Liberal Party leadership, said she’s not sure where she’d run if she became leader.  (Joe McDonald/CBC - image credit)
Susan Holt, candidate for New Brunswick Liberal Party leadership, said she’s not sure where she’d run if she became leader. (Joe McDonald/CBC - image credit)

The first in a series of stories this week on the four New Brunswick Liberal leadership candidates

Liberal leadership candidate Susan Holt says one way to attract and hold onto doctors in New Brunswick would be to eliminate mandatory hospital rounds.

Holt said the amount of time family doctors in the province must spend at local hospitals takes them away from their practices.

She said this system is slowly being replaced with another model, in which physicians known as hospitalists work solely in the hospital.

But Holt said she's spoken to new physicians who find the hospital rounds that are still required are a deterrent.

Holt has made health care a key part of her campaign for the leadership, which the party will decide this coming Saturday.

She said recruitment of doctors and other health-care workers is only part of the solution to the shortages in the New Brunswick system.

Medical professionals also need to be able to practise using all of their skills, she said in an interview on Information Morning in the Summer. 

"It's not just a recruitment solution because if we're recruiting people in, but they're exiting on the back end, we have to fix the culture and the reasons why people are leaving the system," said Holt.

Advised Brian Gallant

Holt was a top adviser to Brian Gallant, who was premier for four years until Blaine Higgs and the Progressive Conservatives took power in 2018.

"I think I bring a fresh perspective and energy and a real focus on transparency and accountability [and] that is what the people in New Brunswick are saying that they want from government," she said.

But Holt said she doesn't think she would reverse Higgs's decision last month to fire Horizon Health Network's CEO and dissolve both health authority boards.

She said she'll be watching the impact of those decisions over the next few years.

Favours role for public

"I don't love our knee-jerk reaction to just reverse what previous parties or governments have done, so it's something I think that would take careful thought," she said.

"But I do think having great leaders in the health-care system is important. But I also think having the public's participation in those elected roles on boards is important."

In addition to health care, another challenge "near and dear" to Holt's heart is New Brunswick's carbon footprint.

She said the climate crisis has been looming, changing the world in the process.

But the government can do a few things to help, Holt said, such as going green with its own operations, including transportation, government buildings and procurement.

4 seeking top job

The other candidates in the leadership race are former MP T.J. Harvey, former MLA Donald Arseneault and current MLA Robert Gauvin.

Roger Melanson, MLA for Dieppe, has been serving as interim party leader since shortly after the 2020 provincial election, which the Liberals lost under the leadership of Kevin Vickers. Vickers resigned on election night after the party won only 17 of 49 seats in the legislature.

Holt is the first woman to run for the provincial Liberal leadership, though Saint John Liberal MLA Shirley Dysart was interim leader of the party in 1985.

Holt ran for the Liberals in Fredericton South in the 2018 election but came second to Green Party Leader David Coon.

She said an ideal situation if she won the leadership race would be to have a byelection and be elected to lead the party from a position in the legislative assembly.

She said she's not sure yet where she'd run in 2024 if she became leader, or whether she'd run for a seat if she didn't win.

Holt said she's been drawn to politics for many years, so she doesn't think that feeling will go away, but she also said the decision to run for leadership was a big one for her family.

"I can't quite predict where the five of us will be in two years and whether my husband will be on board for going through this again," she said.

"I really believe that this is the time for a change in politics and government. We need to do things differently at a personal level."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting