The message from our region is clear. Health care is a top priority and a major concern.
As a Member of Parliament for our region, I have taken that message directly to Ottawa time and time again.
This week, the message was from the Island Lake communities. Communities that are approaching the combined population of Thompson but do not have a hospital. Communities that face inadequate health care services every day.
The Chiefs of St. Theresa Point, Wasagamack, Garden Hill and Red Sucker Lake joined with advocates at the Victoria Inn in Winnipeg to send a strong message to people across our province and our country that their region is desperate for a hospital. They shared heartbreaking stories of lives cut short and people unable to move back to their community because of a lack of access to adequate health care. They talked about the hundreds of air ambulance flights that come in and out of their community that could be prevented if there was a hospital on the ground.
This kind of disparity should not exist in a country as wealthy as Canada.
When I talk to the many dedicated people in the health care system or community leaders or residents, the message is the same. We need more support.
Advocates have also called for a public inquiry into health care in their region. This is something I strongly support. It will not only bring attention to the problem but provide the opportunity to focus on the solutions.
At a time when there is another major health concern with the outbreak of the coronavirus I am reminded of the fact that the last time there was a major outbreak, H1N1, there were significant challenges facing communities like the Island Lake communities . At the time there was talk of the need for a hospital. That still hasn’t happened.
We need to learn the lessons of the last few years. We need to listen to people inside the health care system and patients.
We need an inquiry and action on the ground to improve northern and Indigenous health care.