Petition calls for reopening Pontiac birthing unit

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Allyson Beauregard


Allyson Beauregard

SHAWVILLE – On November 25, the Pontiac Women’s Institute launched a petition asking the government to “put the measures in place to reopen the Pontiac Hospital’s obstetrics unit as soon as possible”. The unit has been closed for nearly two years due to staff shortages and expectant mothers must travel great distances to Gatineau or Ontario to give birth, which is dangerous for them and their babies.
The petition is available to sign at all Pontiac municipal offices as well as numerous local businesses. For example, in Shawville, it’s available at Rhonda’s, Uniprix Santé Ahmad Hassan, Cafe 349, Stedmans and Boutique Shawville Shooz.
The petition, created in collaboration with Pontiac MNA Andre Fortin, also mentions the unit should be re-opened given that one of the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) government’s stated objectives is to repatriate more health services to Quebec.
Fortin and other local elected officials have stressed that staffing shortages will continue until the CAQ government addresses wage discrepancies between Quebec and Ontario, where working conditions are generally better and nurses earn about $20,000 more annually for the same job. The Pontiac and Gatineau areas are particularly hard hit because of their close proximity to the Ontario border.    
The petition is available until December 30. Afterwards, Pontiac MNA Andre Fortin will present it to the National Assembly.