A petition calling on the provincial government to fulfill the north’s needs for health care and long-term care will soon be available to sign in Flin Flon.
The petition was brought to City Hall Nov. 20 and will be made available to sign over the next month, with the results being sent to the office of provincial health minister Usoma Asagwara.
The creator of the petition is Flin Flon’s Katy Anderson, who has been inspired to seek out changes to northern health care for northerners young and old throughout this year.
“I'm going to deliver them to some of them and we're going to really campaign through the whole community. We've got a month to do it - then it'll be delivered or handed to the health minister and other government people,” said Anderson.
Earlier this year, Anderson held a delegation to Flin Flon city councillors and brought dozens of supporters into council chambers. Anderson called on local and regional leadership to use whatever pull they have provincially to promote health care funding for both Flin Flon and the northern region in general. Councillors agreed with Anderson's points, saying they would do what they can to bring more care beds to the region and work with regional and provincial health groups to make it happen. In the nearly four months since, little has been done, though a change in provincial government has taken place and the newly elected Manitoba NDP has pledged to beef up health care province-wide.
Anderson’s speech was inspired by an announcement made by the provincial government on July 7 – that statement touted the province preparing to build six new personal care homes and adding about 670 care beds, along with the recent opening of new personal care homes in Carman, Niverville and Steinbach.
The plan included precisely zero new beds for Flin Flon or for any northern Manitoba community – something that Anderson and other northerners find lacking and has led Anderson to reach out to leaders across the north.
“When that announcement was made, I just could not accept it - that all other places got promises and the north got nothing,” she said.
“What I’ve done is go to Cranberry Portage, I’ve gone twice to The Pas, to Snow Lake, Thompson and Nelson House. I’ve spoken to quite a few of the councils and had a very, very positive response. That took place mostly over August and into September.”
Anderson has been busy since that speech to councillors. Anderson has met with Northern Health Region CEO Raj Sewda and other regional health officials - she says these figures have been “very supportive” but the petition may be the thing that helps get more attention on northern health care and long-term care issues.
“I want thousands of signatures if we can get them, because this is one issue where the government didn't care about the north, thought that we were not worthy of anything. I know it was the past government, but we don't want any government to think that the north will not be heard if we're not treated equitably,” said Anderson.
Anderson sits on the provincial executive of the Manitoba Association of Senior Communities (MASC) and is part of a provincial steering committee for seniors’ health - she says the petition’s creation is independent of both of the other groups.
The petition will also be sent to Lynn Lake, Gillam, Thompson, The Pas, Snow Lake, Cranberry Portage, Cross Lake, Norway House, Wabowden and other communities.