Friday, November 20, 2020

Lessons learned

The Higgs government is leaning heavily on what it says it learned from fighting COVID-19 as it charts a path to a post-pandemic future.
This is the first line from the CBC New Brunswick story regarding the Throne Speech outlining Premier Higgs and the PC government’s vision for our province. While the speech was light on specific details – in all fairness most Throne Speeches do not provide in-depth specifics – it touched on the need to “renew and reinvent” public services among other topics.
So without much to go on, it’s hard to say how the next four years will play out based on one speech, instead the NBU decided to take a page from the Premier and to detail what we learned in fighting the pandemic thus far.
Lesson 1 – Cooperation
Throughout the pandemic our politicians worked together. This was a welcome change from the contentious party politics we see too often. We want to see more of this. A good idea is a good idea regardless of the political affiliation attached to it.
Don’t oppose an idea reflexively it came from another party and, conversely, support ones from other parties that make sense.
Lesson 2 – Expert Opinions Matter
New Brunswick has fared well during the pandemic for a number of reasons including relying on and following the advice of experts.
Heeding the advice of public health experts such as Dr. Jennifer Russel and Dr. Theresa Tam has been invaluable. When it comes to health and safety, there’s no room to play politics, lean on the experts to guide the decisions. Premier Higgs has stated many times he wants to rely on experts when forming policy and legislation, but hasn’t always demonstrated this through action. This story illustrates this problem.
Let’s hope he leans on experts not lobbyists in the future.
Lesson 3 – The Public Service is Invaluable
While we at the NBU already knew this, we hope it has become crystal clear for our elected officials – the public service was invaluable in fighting the pandemic. Workers in the public sector were on the front lines. They didn’t hesitate to take on new roles to help protect our province and help their fellow New Brunswickers.
A strong public sector is always needed in our province, recent events have only bolstered this idea. That’s why government should look to members of the public sector for practical solutions and ideas to improve delivery of public services.
As part of the Throne Speech, it was said, “"Your government invites all New Brunswickers to engage and keep asking: just how good can we be? Collectively, we must challenge ourselves to think differently about ways of working, like citizens did in responding to COVID-19."
The members of the public service have the ideas to make the way we deliver services better. What we need now is a government willing to listen.