November 30, 2020
The Honorable Mélanie Joly
Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages
House of Commons
Re: Long-term care in New Brunswick
Dear Minister Joly,
On October 15th of this year the New Brunswick Nurses Union put out a report called “The Forgotten Generation: An Urgent Call for Reform” highlighting the limits of the long term care system in New Brunswick and the glaring need for change. This exhaustive research on the province’s nursing home sector shows a serious problem in offering services to seniors in their official language, and more importantly when the mother tongue is French.
Serving seniors in their own language is a matter of well-being, safety, respect, and dignity. These individuals have spent their whole lives in family and community settings, where they have been able to use their mother tongue. Being in a position where you are not able to understand what is happening around you can be destabilizing and cause serious distress amongst patients. This situation is all the more worrying when considering that the French Nursing program of the University of Moncton is seeing a decrease in applications.
Since 2004, the province of New Brunswick has seen 16 reports on seniors and long-term care with very little being done after their publication. With Minister Bruce Fitch already questioning some of the statements made in the report and explaining that now is not the time for change, it is clear that the federal government must play a role of leader in this issue. Recommendations addressed directly to the federal government can be found in this report and include security for workers, demographic challenges, funding necessity and lack of workforce.
I hope to see your government be leaders on this issue to ensure that seniors in long-term care units are able to receive services in the official language of their choice and do not suffer further unnecessary stress.