Medavie contract doesn't go far enough to ensure respect for official languages, says lawyer

A lawyer specializing in language rights says the province's new agreement with Medavie, for management of its Extra-Mural Program, doesn't go far enough when it comes to the organization being accountable to New Brunswick's French-speaking population.

Michel Doucet says that although Medavie is obligated to comply with the province's Official Languages Act and the contract contains measures to ensure both official languages are respected, Michel Doucet says Francophones need to remain vigilant.

He says the deal doesn't provide any contractual steps to address any gaps.

Though Medavie has said official languages are a priority, Doucet points to recent language-related problems related to Ambulance NB, which is also managed by the organization.

Meanwhile, Green Party leader David Coon says when he read the contract, he found nothing to guarantee collaboration between the Vitalite and Horizon Health Networks and the Extra-Mural Program.

He's also concerned that head of Medavie, which manages AmbulanceNB, the Extra-Mural Program, and Telecare, will be appointed by the company rather than the provincial government.

A provision in the contract allows it to be cancelled at any time, without cause, if the province pays $1 million.

Tory leader Blaine Higgs says he won't commit to turfing the deal if there's a change in government following next September's provincial election.

Though Higgs says he's found several flaws in the deal, and would work with health care professionals and those who opposed the program's privatization regardless of the results.

Higgs says he wants to hold people accountable for better results and ensure the province's public health care system is not put at risk.

(with files from the Acadie-Nouvelle)