Mr. Speaker, in my duties, I try to be empathetic and put myself in the shoes of constituents. Yesterday expectant parents ready to deliver in Yellowknife were informed they will travel to Edmonton to deliver their child. And I refuse to accept this.
Some families have three weeks' notice that they will have three weeks or more less work and less income, be moved from the safety of their community and support system, potential deliver without their partner, potentially be left with no support for older children, and then be expected to travel home and isolate with a newborn.
I had my first child at 23 in the middle of float season, my husband is a bush pilot. He called in sick to be in the delivery room and returned to his work schedule the next day.
Travelling to Edmonton would not have been an option. Like many deliveries, mine did not go as planned and ended in C section. If I had been in Edmonton, I would have been alone unsure how to get home with a newborn after major surgery. But as a mother, the most devastating part would be leaving my older children for weeks while I waited to deliver.
Mr. Speaker, just last year, a constituent had to be sent south for specialty prenatal care, but her own childhood trauma meant that leaving her older children in Yellowknife was not an option.
Mr. Speaker, Stanton has incredible OBS staff, and I want to acknowledge the demands of shift work on family life and thank the staff that continue to serve our communities. If Stanton cannot find a solution, this change will not be a straight transfer of patients to Edmonton. Families will require financial supports. Medical travel policies need to reflect actual costs, and solutions need to be established for older children unable to stay home.
Mr. Speaker, we are still in a pandemic. Recently Alberta cancelled its services to northern residents during a surge of COVID-19 patients. As Southerners feel the effects of waning immunity, this could again just interrupt the NWT's access to health care. But then what?
I know Stanton made this decision for the safety of patients, but this is not a solution, Mr. Speaker. My time here is not enough to talk about the significance of people leaving their land, territory, and supports during childbirth. This is a huge step in the wrong direction for our entire territory and a decision I just simply cannot accept. We should be fighting for more and not less. Thank you.