The legislative session has returned. As your MLA, I am working on your behalf on the issues that are really important to us in the north. That includes our concerns about healthcare and the affordability of hydro prices.
Unfortunately, healthcare cuts have resulted in medical staff and equipment shortages in the Flin Flon constituency. The ER closure at Leaf Rapids Health Centre was supposed to last only six days when it began July 13 - instead, this closure graduated to what the Northern Health Region (NHR) announced to be an “indeterminate” period of time as a result of staff shortages.
Additionally, multiple northern communities — Leaf Rapids, Lynn Lake and Snow Lake — keep facing healthcare cutbacks. With services in Snow Lake reduced, there is a lot of strain on the medical facility in Flin Flon. People are experiencing a lack of ambulance services and others who are critically ill are having to travel long distances to receive treatment outside their communities. Patients have had to be transferred from Lynn Lake Hospital to Flin Flon because of a lack of staff. Family members of patients were not notified before this long-term transfer of their loved ones took place.
I participated in Zoom meetings with the NHR and affected communities after the fact. Unfortunately, there were not proactive plans in place to inform family members that their loved ones had been moved over 700 kilometres away to Flin Flon, an eight-hour drive by car from Lynn Lake. The leadership at Black Sturgeon Falls (Marcel Colomb First Nation) were not notified either.
In addition, we know that we are seeing a decline in the number of available medical procedures in the north. As a result, people have to go south. Unfortunately, while the Northern Patient Transportation Program (NPTP) costs have gone up, the amounts paid to residents have not risen to match the costs. This means it is getting more and more difficult for residents to afford the costs of attending medical appointments in the south. I have heard from people in the constituency who are missing appointments as a result.
I am also fighting on your behalf to keep hydro affordable. The Progressive Conservative (PC) government has put forward a bill that could see our hydro bills increase by five per cent. Rather than using an accountable process through the Public Utilities Board, the PCs want to effectively set rates themselves at the cabinet table. That’s not the right approach.
The government needs to address healthcare and affordability issues now. The living conditions of Manitobans depend on it.
If you would like to contact me about healthcare, hydro or anything else of concern to you, please contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 204-687-3246.