Frustration is increasing for a group of mothers in western Manitoba who are worried about the ongoing pediatrician shortage in Brandon.
It's been six months since two of Brandon's four pediatricians left the city. The shortage has forced some children and expectant mothers to travel to Winnipeg for treatment.
Local mothers Kelly Saunders, Jennifer Lamb and Alex Pinilla-Gomez came together when the doctors left; they met with the premier and the minister of health to talk about ways to deal with the shortage.
Now, Saunders says nothing is happening and they're getting tired of waiting. The moms are creating a watchdog group called the Westman Mothers for Health Care to make sure officials with the Brandon Regional Health Authority and the province continue to work to fill the positions.
"We've listened for far too long about this government blaming everybody else for the problem. What we have said along is enough excuses – it's time for someone to step up and be accountable for health care in this province," she says.
Health authority's search continues
Officials with the health authority say they are trying to find doctors to fill the vacant positions, but it takes time.
"We are relying primarily, these days, on foreign-trained physicians, so that process is somewhat lengthier," says Carmen Olson, CEO of the health authority.
Health Minister Tim Sale says his government is also working on the problem, but there's a shortage of specialists across Canada.
"Big cities are short of pediatricians, not just smaller areas," he points out. "We continue to work really hard at it, but we're also happy that we have had no uncovered days for quite some time and we're covered right up to summer now."
Doctors from Winnipeg and Saskatoon are covering some of the days when no pediatrician is scheduled to be on call in Brandon.
The Westman Mothers for Health Care say the money the health authority has paid out for people to fill in temporarily could have been used to keep the physicians who left in the first place.