AMHERST - A strike by health-care workers in Cumberland County could make for busier times across the border in Moncton.
Cumberland Health Authority spokesperson Ann Keddy said Monday her organization has been in touch with their counterparts in southeastern New Brunswick to ask for help if the need arises.
"We have had discussions with them and as best they can they'll support us in providing service to our patients," Keddy said. "The thing is they are pretty busy right now themselves."
More than 3,000 hospital supporter workers across Nova Scotia could hit the picket line next Monday if their demands for wage parity with Halifax are not met. In Cumberland, that represents close to 400 employees represented by CUPE including X-ray, laboratory, clerical and housekeeping staff.
The Cumberland Health Authority already has a long-standing working relationship with health-care facilities in southeastern New Brunswick. A large number of patients are regularly referred to the Moncton City Hospital and George Dumont Hospital as well as to Sackville Memorial Hospital.
"We already use Moncton quite a bit and a lot of our referrals already go in that direction," said Keddy. "In this case, we are going to look after true emergencies, but if there's anything else that's non-emergent and they can handle it we'll send it to them."
Just how many patients are referred to New Brunswick could also be impacted by the length of a strike, said Keddy.
As part of their strike preparations, the health authority will be sending a letter out to all households in the county letting residents know just what services will be available during a strike.
Keddy said the only emergency department available in the county during a strike will be at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre while labour and delivery and emergency surgeries will continue. All other services will be disrupted by the strike.
She expects more people from this side of the border will also visit the emergency department in Sackville in the event of a strike.
The health authority, she said, remains hopeful a negotiated settlement will be reached with its unionized workforce.