November 18, 2020
Treaty 2 Territory, Roblin MB – The Manitoba NDP has learned that as early as August 10, 2020, the Pallister government was planning to close the Roblin emergency room and diagnostics services.
“Families in Roblin fought hard against the PC plan to close their ER, but the government ignored them. Now, they are farther away from the critical care they need in the middle of a pandemic,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew, who held a drive-in rally in Roblin when the closure was announced. “Families were left scrambling with just a week’s notice, but it turns out the government knew for weeks this was going to happen. It shows a lack of respect for rural families and their health care. Roblinites deserve better.”
Government documents obtained through freedom of information requests show provincial health officials were planning to consolidate diagnostic services in Russell and close services in neighbouring communities like Roblin: “In order to maintain services in the geographic area, diagnostics services (DS) will be consolidated at Russell from neighboring communities. This will provide predictable and reliable ED and DS services in the geographical area.”
However, families living in Roblin and surrounding communities did not find out about this closure until almost three weeks later, on August 27, 2020. This left the residents and local health care workers just five business days to prepare for the loss of acute health care services in their communities.
“If the government and the Health Minister truly were concerned about the issue at hand, steps could have been taken to reduce the shortage and ultimately save Roblin's lab service and ER and hospital,” said Mackenzie Kozak, a Roblin resident. “Human life and their health status should never be at risk based on financial instability.”
This freedom of information request only further proves that the provincial government has consistently waited too long to disclose information about staffing vacancies to the communities impacted by this information.