Since taking office, the Pallister government has made cuts to northern healthcare, which has left it vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They cut the Northern Patient Transportation Program (NPTP) by $1 million and privatized LifeFlight, which means that there are slower transport times and diminished service. These cuts make it harder for people to access the care they need.
They cancelled their plans to build a $9 million northern consultation clinic in Thompson. This clinic would have meant less people having to travel for medical reasons and communities being able to get care closer to home.
In the 2019/2020 budget the province’s proposed budget cuts included a $1.1 million cut to staff-to-patient ratios, which meant less care to the bedside.
Even if they expand the north’s services, there is still the issue of chronic understaffing. Our emergency room in Thompson has had vacancies as high as 60 per cent – this is completely unacceptable and reduces access to timely care. When I asked the health minister about these issues it was clear that she does not have a plan to address this issue.
Even in Winnipeg, staffing is an issue. As of May 31, the province had sent 35 intensive care unit patients out of province as they didn’t have enough staff to handle the ICU admissions during this pandemic. It’s no coincidence that the Pallister government cut ICU beds several years ago. We don’t want this same situation to happen in the north. The province needs to invest in our healthcare system now to ensure care is there and available when people need it, close to home. Northern Manitobans’ health matters as much as any other Manitoban and the government’s investments in our services should reflect that.
Unfortunately, when he was questioned about his government’s failed pandemic response, the premier called our the leader of the Official Opposition a word I shouldn’t write.
Thankfully, now more than half of all northern residents and over 60 per cent of on-reserve First Nations peoples have received at least one vaccine dose. I want to thank everyone working on the frontlines, immunizers and First Nation leaders for working to get doses into arms. The vaccine will bring us one step closer to the “normal” we all miss. Please get vaccinated as soon as you can.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at Danielle.email@example.com or by calling me at 204-677-2744.