Last week, Pontiac MNA André Fortin filed a petition created by local residents demanding the return of obstetrics services to the Pontiac Hospital. The department was closed in February, 2020, due to a lack of nursing staff, with a tentative timeline of six months to re-open. Just weeks later, the first wave of the pandemic landed in the province and the “temporary closure” has now lasted almost two years.
The petition was spearheaded by the Pontiac Women’s Institute, and was delivered to businesses and town halls across the region for a five-week period late last year, garnering a total of 1,050 signatures. Bringing it up the in the National Assembly allowed Fortin to engage with associate minister of health Lionel Carmant on the issue.
Speaking later in the week, Fortin said that he brought the issue to the attention of the government because there doesn’t seem to be a plan from regional health authority CISSSO to return the service to the area.
Fortin said that Carmant told him the Outaouais was next on the list for accelerated obstetrics training, but added that without an increase in pay for nurses in order to compete with neighboring Ontario, the situation wouldn’t change.
When asked what he would say to people that have lost or are losing hope that obstetrics services would ever return to the hospital, Fortin said “the day government tells you that it’s not happening anymore is the day you lose hope.” He noted that he and other members of the community were doing their best to keep the issue on the government’s radar.
The full interview with Fortin is available here.