N.B. deputy premier quits minority Tory government over health-care reforms

New Brunswick

New Brunswick's governing Progressive Conservatives have lost their deputy premier with Robert Gauvin's announcement he is quitting in protest over health-care reforms.

Gauvin told constituents in his riding of Shippagan-Lameque-Miscou today he will sit as an Independent, dealing a blow to the minority government of Premier Blaine Higgs.

The announcement, which drew applause from his supporters, follows the government's decision this week to close emergency rooms overnight in six community hospitals in the province.

Gauvin is the second Tory MLA to denounce the ER closures, following Bruce Northrup's statement Thursday that he cannot support the move.

Higgs has said his government is convinced it is doing the right thing to ensure the sustainability of the province's health-care system.

Gauvin says people from rural communities across the province urged him to take a stand, and he felt obliged to act because he doesn't feel the premier is protecting citizens.