Manitoba

Granville Lake residents, Health Canada spar over health services

Health Canada officials say the department is doing its best in Granville Lake, where residents have complained that their inability to access to health services has reached a crisis point.

Health Canada officials say the department is doing its best to deal with the situation in Granville Lake, Man., where residents have complained that their inability to access to health services has reached a crisis point.

Residents protested in late April that Health Canada had stopped paying for individuals to fly out to see a doctor. Under a new policy, more than one person had to have an appointment at the same time to get on a flight out of the tiny community, located about 740 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.

Harriet Baker, a diabetic, said she wasn't able to see her doctor for more than two weeks because no one else needed to see a doctor during that span.

Beverly Baker, a community nurse, also complained that the hamlet's nursing station didn't have basic medical supplies, such as bandages or antibiotics. Health Canada had also refused to fly children out of the community to receive immunizations for diseases such as measles, she said. 

Jim Wolfe, regional director for Health Canada, said his department is working with the community.

"I can assure you that there is no health crisis in Granville Lake," he said. 

"We have had many, many conversations and will continue to have that with the residents there, trying to improve how we make sure that all the medical needs are attended to, including the urgent and also the non-urgent ones, such as kids needing immunizations."

Wolfe acknowledged that an individual with a non-urgent medical appointment must wait for others who also require a charter flight before they can travel out of the community. An individual with an urgent health situation could be flown out alone, he said.

"We need to continue to work and will continue to work with the Granville Lake residents to improve the co-ordination of that non-urgent travel and ensuring that they have adequate supplies," he said.

About 80 people live in Granville Lake, most of them members of the Mathias Colomb First Nation.

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