“Please, don’t pass me by”

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Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen

While the partial closure of the Mansfield CLSC emergency services has been advertised, written and talked about these past few weeks, it was Journal publisher, Fred Ryan, who first warned the public in one of his columns that this erosion of local services was on the horizon. Editor, André Macron, wrote an article on the topic at the same time, as did columnist Peter J. Gauthier. That was TWO (2) years ago this August.

The only response the Journal got to those predictions was a lengthy letter from the Municipality of Mansfield, correcting Mr. Ryan’s reference of ‘the clinic in Fort-Coulonge’ – technically the CLSC is located in Mansfield. The mayors and councillors of both municipalities completely missed the point – that which has come true now – and choose instead to dwell on political boundaries rather than start  taking some preventive action back in 2011.

Those two mayors and one other joined about 70 people at a citizens-organized protest on June 22 at the Mansfield CLSC. Where were the rest of the mayors? Where was Pontiac’s MNA, or at least a representative of Madam L’Écuyer’s office?

And while ‘recruitment and retention of doctors at the emergency of the CLSC’ was on the agenda for the June 25 MRC Pontiac council meeting, and supposedly all the mayors were sent an email about the protest, it was obvious that the majority of them at the MRC meeting hadn’t a clue about the situation.

Was it a lack of information or a lack of interest? Did the 15 other municipal mayors think the closure would not impact their residents? Or did they expect – or were they given the impression – that a few officials could be left to manage the crisis?

It’s not surprising that the one demonstrator at the rally who drew the most applause asked, “Why are we only finding out about this cut-back and shortage of doctors now? Gatineau has two hospitals, yet for years people from that area have been coming here, and to the Shawville hospital for treatment. Is the MRC here to lead us, or to follow behind us? Instead of running after dreams that aren’t happening, all of our mayors should have been here to support this protest. If you don’t communicate with us, how can we help?”

Attracting doctors – or any new residents to stay in the Pontiac – won’t come from elected leaders making impassioned, boisterous speeches and promises of being in ‘solution-mode’ or suddenly being able to introduce some vague ‘quality of life’ to the Pontiac, which individually can be for broadly differing reasons.

It’s fine to want to fight, or change, the system, but how is that going to work if the public only becomes fully “officially” aware of the situation after the service is gone?

­Nancy Hunt, Editor