Full breadth of cuts becoming clear

By Matt Wiebe, MLA for Concordia

As published in The Herald September 1, 2017

It has been a rough year for health care in our province.

As the breadth of the cuts becomes more clear, the concerns keep rising. Additional changes announced over the summer have demonstrated just how far reaching these cuts will be. These really are the biggest cuts to our health care system in a generation.

In June we heard more details on when emergency rooms across the city will close. The Victoria Hospital’s ER and the Misericordia’s Urgent Care Centre will be shut down by Oct. 3. The Victoria and the Concordia Hospital’s ERs will be closing its doors in 2018.

Shortly after, we learned that the provincial government is making moves to privatize homecare services. We learned that $4.8 million will be cut from chiropractic care as well as reductions in coverage for patients. We also learned of cuts to the pharmacare coverage of blood glucose test strips for Manitobans with Type 1 Diabetes.

More closures and cuts were announced throughout July. The government is forging ahead with the closure of the Misericordia Urgent Care Centre, which has already been forced to close overnights because of staffing shortages.

Moreover, the government decided to close four QuickCare clinics, the Mature Women’s Centre, and the Corydon Primary Care Clinic. At the same time, the government undermined long-term patient rehabilitation and recovery by cutting in-hospital adult physiotherapy and occupational therapy services, along with essential post-pregnancy services that help new mothers.

In August we learned that irrational government cuts mean that hospitals are starting to ration blankets and wash cloths, along with making residents pay for adult diapers. We were also astonished to learn that 500 nursing positions will be deleted, forcing those nurses to reapply for whatever positions happen to be available.

All these changes stem from the directive from the government to the WRHA to cut $83 million from their budget this year. That directive has forced health care officials and frontline workers to cut extensively and put patient care at risk. It’s clear that the government has prioritized austerity over a high quality health care system.

I’ve heard from the residents of Concordia and one thing is clear to them: this is not a government that is putting patients first and protecting our health care system.

I have been proud to see so many people out at the rallies and events that have been organized to oppose these cuts, and I look forward to talking to you more about how we can work together to improve healthcare in our community.