Hay River North
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The residents of Hay River are gravely concerned about the state of the healthcare system in our community, and many believe that the situation is worsening. People are afraid to get sick or injured in Hay River. It's hard to blame them; we've all heard the horror stories.
I know people who are living with the ongoing and, in some cases, lifelong effects of serious injuries like fractured skulls, broken necks, and broken backs, because, despite their best efforts, these injuries were not properly diagnosed in Hay River and they were eventually forced to seek care outside the territory. I know people who have been diagnosed with life-threatening conditions, but weren't informed until years later. I know people with serious but manageable medical conditions who have uprooted their lives and moved out of town because, based on their experiences with the healthcare system, they felt like they were playing Russian roulette by living in Hay River.
In fact, many people who live in Hay River don't actually use the local health services; they have family doctors in Alberta that they see on a regular basis. That seems to be the only way people can see the same physician more than once, and that lack of continuity contributes to the problems that we're facing.
We actually have some great permanent physicians in Hay River who are loved by the community. We've had some in the past, as well, and the same goes for nurses. The problem is that they never seem to stay. As a result, we're always understaffed and, instead of having established medical teams who know patients' histories and who can play off each other's strengths, we're forced to rely on a revolving door of locums and temporary employees.
While recruitment of health professionals is difficult across Canada, our problem is not so much recruitment as retention. We seem to be able to attract doctors and nurses, but we can't keep them. What's so frustrating is that I often hear that they would love to stay in Hay River, but they don't want to work at the Health Authority.
As an MLA, I don't get to see the internal, day-to-day workings of the organization, but I've heard enough from past and present employees, and from the public, to know that the ongoing problems at the authority need to be addressed before anything will change.
These issues are not insurmountable, but they will take a concerted effort on the part of this government and on the part of this authority and, while time might have run out for this Assembly, I'm confident that, in the future, we can make the changes necessary. I'll have some questions for the Minister of Health. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.