The number of new residents and requests for health insurance is growing at a record pace and the provincial administration is unable to keep pace. Result: the waiting time to receive the precious card marked with the Hopewell rocks is getting longer, depriving families newly settled in New Brunswick of the health program for many months.
According to Moncef Lakouas, president of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council, the delay following the application for membership can stretch up to nine months. Forced to deprive themselves of medical services or to pay exorbitant bills, some people can then find themselves in an extremely precarious situation.
He mentions the case of a resident who had to wait seven months to obtain her card. In the meantime, her health deteriorated to the point where surgery became necessary.
“Newcomers without a valid health insurance card do not even have the privilege of being the last in the long queues for access to health services, they are not part of it at all” , laments Mr. Lakouas.
As of June 24, 2,583 health insurance registration requests were pending. The Ministry of Health explains the situation by an “unprecedented” number of requests. He assures that more staff will be recruited to speed up the processing of files, specifying that the average time is currently more or less 15 weeks, depending on the complexity of the file and the need for additional documents. He also underlines that the files of people requiring immediate care are treated as a priority.
Last week, the chambers of commerce of the Chaleur region, Moncton, Fredericton, Saint-Jean, Cap-Pelé/Beaubassin-Est and Edmundston sent the new Minister of Health a joint letter calling on him to this file as soon as possible.
“Long wait times limit access to certain health services and cause undue stress, financial worries and reluctance to obtain much-needed services. How we treat and serve our newcomers affects not only our chances of newcomers staying permanently in New Brunswick, but also our potential to attract additional new people to our province,” the letter read. , which recalls the 16,000 vacancies recorded at the end of March.
“The province has recently demonstrated that it can respond quickly to this issue and provide a high level of service by providing access to Medicare within days for newly arrived Ukrainians fleeing war. We need to increase processing capacity so that this level of service becomes the norm for all newcomers to New Brunswick, regardless of the circumstances.”
To be eligible, you must have the legal right to remain in Canada and demonstrate that you have established your permanent and principal residence in New Brunswick. Other hurdles are added for international students who begin their studies in January, but must wait to be able to provide confirmation of registration for the fall term before being eligible.
In a report presented last month, the Multicultural Council pointed to the lack of clarity and transparency of the process. The organization believes that allowing requests to be transferred electronically and giving Service New Brunswick staff the opportunity to provide feedback if the documentation submitted is not correct would reduce delays.
It also proposes to go further and relax certain eligibility rules, so that it is no longer necessary to demonstrate proof of residence, but only the intention to obtain it, or to allow temporary workers to have coverage for the duration of their stay while requiring employers to provide medical coverage to their employees until they are eligible for health insurance as is the case in Colombia British.