NDP hope to reopen maternity ward in Flin Flon after last year’s closure

NDP candidates Niki Ashton (Churchill—Keewatinook Aski) and Georgina Jolibois (Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River) speak about the importance of access to healthcare in the north at a press conference in Flin Flon, Manitoba. (NDP Media/Submitted)

NDP candidates were in Flin Flon, Manitoba on Tuesday to make an announcement regarding northern healthcare ahead of the federal election.

Niki Ashton, MP for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski and Georgina Jolibois, MP for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, said an NDP government would reopen the Flin Flon maternity ward.

Expecting mothers in the area were forced to find another hospital to give birth when the ward closed late last year because of staffing shortages.

“This is a key commitment from our federal NDP team, from us as candidates, because we believe that what’s taken place here in Flin Flon, in this part of our north, is wrong. It’s unjust and it’s had a detrimental impact,” said Ashton in a Facebook Live of the press conference.

“People who need reproductive healthcare in our north have the same right to bring a child into the world in safety and comfort as people in big cities.”

Jolibois said it’s “a sad reality” that pregnant women in the north are having to travel south to give birth.

“This is a very important issue, a very critical issue in northern Saskatchewan. We need to address this,” she said.

Ashton said the need for healthcare in the north stretches much further than just obstetrics.

She added the NDP will fight for national coverage of dental care and for northerns to have better access to doctors and nurses, as well as prescription drugs.

“For us, the NDP, healthcare is a majority priority,” said Ashton.

“We need to make sure that our north is treated fairly and that there is investment in the kinds of healthcare, including maternal healthcare, that we need,” she emphasized.

Jolibois said not only is she hearing about the struggle of expecting mothers, but also about the lack of access to healthcare for seniors and elders in her riding.

“I hear how they struggle when they need to get a medical appointment down south. First of all, there’s no transportation,” said Jolibois, referencing the shutdown of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) in May of 2017.

“Everywhere in the north I go, from elders to seniors to single moms, they have to pay for their medication,” she said, adding it gets very expensive for someone who has diabetes, for example.

Living in northern Saskatchewan, Jolibois said proper healthcare is important to her.

Flin Flon rests close to the border separating Saskatchewan and Manitoba.