Residents in Vaudreuil-Soulanges, one of the fastest growing regions in Canada, are imploring the province to live up to a promise to give the community a hospital.
The region, with a population of nearly 150,000, is one of the only areas of its size without its own hospital facilities.
The area west of Montreal was promised a local hospital by the previous Liberal government in 2010.
However, some in the region say they have a sinking feeling they’ve been all but forgotten.
“We were supposed to have an answer in April, then in June, then July, then never,” said Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon.
Since the Parti Québécois was elected, the government has announced plans for new hospitals in Quebec City and Baie-Saint-Paul.
The latter, a community about one third the size, received the same financial commitment that is needed in Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Pilon said.
“So why do they have money and we don't have money? Anyone who looks at the electoral map knows why,” he said.
'If something happens, we go directly to Hawksbury now' - Aileen Nestruck, region resident
A spokesperson for the provincial health ministry told CBC that there’s no firm timeline on when the money needed for the region’s hospital would be coming, but only that location scouting would begin “soon”.
That’s little comfort however to many residents of the region, some of whom said they’ve been forced to cross the border into Ontario to get emergency health care.
Aileen Nestruck, a long-time resident of the region, says she doesn’t think twice about crossing the border after her son waited more than 24 hours for treatment of his broken ankle at Valleyfield.
“If something happens, we go directly to Hawksbury now,” she said.
“We haven't forgotten the other hospitals, but for us, they don't exist anymore.”
Richard Chartrand, a member of a citizens’ group formed to put pressure on the government to bring a hospital to the region, points to a planned expansion of the Hawksbury hospital as a symptom of the problem.
He says the influx of Quebecers into the Ontario health facility has helped push that hospital to grow.
There are ripple effects on this side of the provincial boundary too, he said. No hospital means fewer doctors willing to practice in the region.
“We have to put our (foot) down and say, ‘Vaudreuil-Soulanges exists. Come on — we need health, we need everything,'” he said.
The hospital mobilization committee hopes to meet with the health minister before the end of the year.