Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg MB—The Manitoba NDP is presenting a petition on behalf of epilepsy patients and their families with more than 500 signatures calling on the Pallister government to address shortages at the clinic and invest in seizure treatment.
“When qualified specialists, like neurologists, leave our health system it’s on the Pallister government to replace them,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “Yet more than seven months after losing care providers, the PCs have failed to address capacity shortages in the clinic. Manitoba patients deserve a government that prioritizes hiring health care providers.”
The NDP is sponsoring a petition started by Pat Trottier, the mother of an epileptic man who says the loss of neurologists at the Epilepsy Unit at Health Sciences Centre has made it harder for her son and other patients to access life-saving care and pursue surgical treatment. Trottier’s petition has garnered 500 signatures so far, in support of greater provincial investment into the clinic including hiring more specialists and nurses, adding dedicated beds and replacing outdated equipment.
In July, an unknown number of neurologists resigned en mass from the clinic at HSC. An internal memo from Shared Health obtained by media says the “unexpected” resignations “significantly impacted” neurology care and indicated the clinic would close at St. Boniface, leaving only HSC’s unit.
WRHA records obtained by the NDP through FIPPA show as of October there were nine vacancies out of a total 25 positions in the region—a 36% vacancy rate. After the resignations, Health Minister Cameron Friesen promised Manitobans efforts to recruit more neurologists were underway, but so far capacity at the clinic is still a problem.
Trottier noted for patients like her son, access to a bed in the unit is the first step towards life-changing brain surgery. Neurologists can work with patients to tweak medications, address side effects and perform exams to prepare for surgery.
“My son has lived with seizures since he was six years old. The care and treatment he receives at this clinic is key to his ability to work, have independence and enjoy life,” said Trottier. “But a lack of staff and beds makes it harder for him to access the care he needs to control his epilepsy. We started this petition to call on the government for greater investment in that clinic—to hire more staff and improve services so that Manitobans living with epilepsy can get the care they deserve.”
“Manitobans expect to be able to access specialists, like neurologists, when they need it,” said NDP Health Critic Uzoma Asagwara. “But the Pallister government is failing to replace vacancies at our clinic and allowing wait times to grow. We’re standing with the 500+ Manitobans who signed this petition because we believe epilepsy patients deserve better care.”