Sol Mamakwa MPP, Kiiwetinoong

Government of Ontario

Ford must support northern hospitals to ensure emergency departments are kept open

Published on March 28, 2022

QUEEN’S PARK –  Doug Ford must act now to provide staff and resources to northern hospitals to keep their emergency departments open, said MPP Sol Mamakwa (Kiiwetinoong) who is taking the issue to the government during question period on Monday after the Red Lake Margaret Cochenour Memorial Hospital’s emergency department was forced to close over the weekend.
 
“Over six thousand people were left without an emergency department. They had to rely on ambulances to transport them to the next closest hospital more than two hours away, or hope that air ambulance services could move them in time to save them,” said Mamakwa. “For patients suffering major injury or illness, including kids, this closure could have had devastating, or even fatal consequences. I’m at Queen’s Park today to fight to makes sure this government never does this to us again — not in Red Lake, or any other Northern or fly-in community.”
 
Red Lake Margaret Cochenour Memorial Hospital’s doctors regularly work long stretches of 24-hour on-call shifts. Over half of physicians are locums who need extra time to travel, mainly from Southern Ontario. Yet neither the former Liberal government nor the Ford government have put effective, well-funded northern physician recruitment strategies in place.
 
“Just one cancelled flight, or a sick day for a doctor, can force a hospital like Red Lakes to close the emergency department,” said Mamakwa. “This government’s lack of funding for specialist supports, lack of fair pay, and lack of support for local medical residency programs have put these hospitals on the knife’s edge.
 
“We can start to fix this problem — but only with a government that cares about Northern, fly-in and First Nations communities, and is willing to invest in better health care.”
 
Last week the Ford government voted against a motion by NDP Leader Andrea Horwath to fund a plan to retain, recruit and return nurses and doctors in Northern Ontario. Ford’s Conservatives voted it down.