A Saskatoon woman sterilized against her will five years ago says she is still suffering physically and emotionally from the procedure.
Brenda Pelletier told CBC News she was a recovering addict when she underwent a tubal ligation at Royal University Hospital. Her mother was caring for her twin sons and four other children at the time.
When Pelletier delivered her youngest daughter, a social worker told her she couldn't leave until she had a tubal ligation. She said she was hounded to sign the consent form.
"Constantly, like every couple hours. I don't know if it was two hours or three hours but it was non-stop, all day, all night," Pelletier said. "Like right up until you better sign that, the operating room's ready."
Even in the operating room, Pelletier recalled, she said, "I don't want this," adding she thought the procedure would only involve using clamps on her tubes, nothing more.
'Just burning the ends'
"You know I'm laying there, scared enough, not wanting this done, even telling her I didn't want it done," Pelletier recalled. "Then, all of a sudden, I smell something burned. If I could have jumped off that table I probably would have."
She said "the anaesthesiologist was at my head and he said, 'It's OK dear. They're just burning the ends.'"
Pelletier said she still feels the emotional impact of what happened to her in hospital after she gave birth to her daughter.
"They tried to put that fear in me like if you don't do this we're going to take her from you," she said.
Pelletier said she had to return to hospital a week after the procedure because she was hemorrhaging. She said she still suffers painful, heavy menstruation.
Pelletier, who is Cree Métis, said she knows another woman, also an aboriginal, who had the same thing happen to her.
CBC has been in touch with a third woman, Roxanne Ledoux, who is Cree. She is also a recovering addict who confirmed to CBC that she was also told she needed to have a tubal ligation or she would be called a "negligent mother."
Officials at the Saskatoon health region said they've apologized to Pelletier and another woman with a similar story.
"When I met with the women I felt very sorry," said Jackie Mann, vice-president for integrated health services. "I expressed to them my apology that the experience they had in our care its not the kind of experience we would ever want a woman to have in our care."
Mann said an external review has been ordered. The person who will head that review will be selected in the next week or two.
Mann said she cannot confirm whether other women felt pressured to have the operation. However, Mann confirmed that in 2010, about 94 tubal ligation procedures were done after vaginal delivery. In 2015, the procedure was performed only 20 times.
Mann said the health region has changed it policy: "We want to ensure that that woman has had that conversation [about whether to have a tubal ligation] with her physician prior to coming to the hospital."
Mann said any patient who has concerns about the care received in the Saskatoon Health Region should contact the client representative's office, adding there has been no discussion of compensation for the women at this point.
Pelletier said she wants to see the policy change in writing: "I trust nobody."