Health professionals protest additional cutbacks

0
61

The SPSS Pontiac FIQ Union protested outside the Pontiac Community Hospital in Shawville, June 5, against announced cutbacks to health services

Lisa Boisvert



The SPSS Pontiac FIQ Union protested outside the Pontiac Community Hospital in Shawville, June 5, against announced cutbacks to health services

Lisa Boisvert

SHAWVILLE – The SPSS Pontiac FIQ Union nurses, nursing assistants and respiratory therapists protested against pending budget cuts to the local hospital and CLSC services (see page 6) in front of the Pontiac Community Hospital (PCH), June 5; one hundred and sixty members of the union participated in the protest. “We are fighting to keep our resources in the Pontiac, to keep our patients in Quebec, to keep our 24-hour clinics open, to keep surgeries, including specialty surgeries, and surgeons here, and to maintain employment,” said Chantal St-Aubin, Union Secretary.  
“We finally have the
residents of Chapeau and Rapides-des-Joachims coming to our clinics and hospitals, which is about a two hour drive for them, instead of elsewhere. We need to maintain our services and not reduce them. The uncertainty of employment is also creating a stressful environment which is hard to work in,” she continued, explaining that if the 24-hour CLSC in Fort-Coulonge either closes or reduces its hours, wait times at the PCH will increase and
possibly encourage patients to seek services in Ontario. 
If specialty services in the Pontiac, such as cataract and dentistry surgeries, are eliminated, patients will be sent to Gatineau for these procedures and the Pontiac will risk losing doctors. “Our obstetrics unit is well-received and patients even come from Gatineau for it. Doctors are being asked to come to the Pontiac to practice, but unjustified and non-calculated cuts can lead to problems in recruiting. The Pontiac’s nursing and nurses-aid courses could also suffer if there are fewer employment opportunities for graduates because of
the cutbacks,” explained
St-Aubin. 
Protests will continue throughout the summer in hopes of maintaining full services in the Pontiac region. “There is no
comparison between the Pontiac and Gatineau
hospitals; the merger was a mistake that needs to be acknowledged before it’s too late. We are about the people. We have to fight for our patients, newborns to elderly, who need to have local services,” concluded St-Aubin.