Manitoba

Manitoba NDP calls for independent investigation into woman's death after failed COVID airlift

The Manitoba NDP wants the province to launch an independent inquest into the death of a seriously ill COVID-19 patient who died after a failed attempt to airlift her to Ontario last May. 

Krystal Mousseau, 31, died in May 2021 in Brandon as she was about to be airlifted to Ontario

Krystal Mousseau, 31, died after an attempt was made to move her out of the province to receive care for COVID-19 in May 2021. (Krystal Mousseau/Facebook)

The Manitoba NDP wants the province to launch an independent inquest into the death of a seriously ill COVID-19 patient who died after a failed attempt to airlift her to Ontario last spring — a point when Manitoba was sending critically ill patients out of province due to overwhelmed intensive care units.

Krystal Mousseau, 31, died on May 25 at the Brandon Regional Health Centre.

At the time, the province reported that a medically stable patient destabilized prior to takeoff to Ottawa. 

Though the province said they could not identify her, her family confirmed Mousseau, a member of Ebb and Flow First Nation, was the patient.

Her family said a few days before the failed airlift, she had been placed into a medically induced coma at the Brandon Regional Health Centre.

The province is already investigating Mousseau's death as an official critical incident, meaning it acknowledges she suffered "serious and undesired" unintended consequences arising from the health services provided to her.

But Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew says his party, and Mousseau's family, don't think that investigation will go far enough, since it will be limited to probing issues within the health-care system. 

"However, if we call an inquest, it's going to be an independent process. It's going to be a step removed. It's going to have more of an ability to answer those questions … that Krystal's family has," he said. 

"It'll perhaps bring them closure, and of course, it'll bring them a step closer to justice for this person that they loved. But also, I think it's important for the people of Manitoba to understand how one of our own had this terrible tragedy befall them."

Kinew said he wrote a letter to Justice Minister Cameron Friesen in December, but has not received a response. 

In an email, Friesen said the sole responsibility for calling an inquest rests with the chief medical examiner.

He also said Mousseau's death was reported to the chief medical examiner's office and an investigation was conducted.

"Our sympathies go out to the family and community of Krystal Mousseau," he said. 

Between May and July last year, Manitoba sent a total of 57 COVID-19 patients requiring critical care out of province, most of them to Ontario, as the third wave of the pandemic strained the province's health-care system to the point that it ran out of intensive care unit capacity.

Twelve of those patients died outside of Manitoba.

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