Posted on Oct 29, 2020


MEDICINE HAT - NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley was joined by parents in Medicine Hat today to call on Premier Jason Kenney to protect the Medicine Hat Maternity Clinic and drop his plans to fire 11,000 frontline hospital workers.

“Jason Kenney is destroying 11,000 Alberta jobs during an economic crisis and creating chaos in the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital during a pandemic. It’s cruel, irresponsible and downright stupid,” Notley said. “These Albertans clean rooms, launder sheets and prepare food for our loved ones under difficult conditions and for very modest pay. These are the Albertans that Jason Kenney wants to sacrifice to pay for his $4.7-billion corporate handout.”

Alongside the chaos caused by Kenney’s mass layoffs, the maternity clinic at the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital may be forced to close after 17 years in operation. Doctors have been warning since March that cuts to AHS supports would force them to close. While a temporary agreement has kept the doors open for now, the clinic’s long-term future is unclear.

“It’s unconscionable that a clinic which delivers half the babies in Medicine Hat, which has operated for nearly two decades, will be closed by Jason Kenney,” Notley said. “Expectant parents in southeastern Alberta deserve stable services in their hospital and their maternity clinic.”

Local parent Ivanna Cruz says the potential closure is “really upsetting.” 

“It was really nice to have the maternity clinic. They were always so helpful and I felt they gave better care. They always sent me home with different samples of vitamins or teas and reading material which was so helpful. I also liked getting to know the different doctors. It put me at ease when I went into labour. I didn’t have my specific family doctor but I had one I had seen in the clinic. Knowing the doctor beforehand and them knowing my specific conditions and concerns made for a more comfortable delivery. I can’t believe the government doesn’t think this is worth it. It’s a huge asset for mothers.”

Marie-Claude Scahill is a social worker in the Medicine Hat area.

“Shutting down one of the most important services for women and families having babies is unreal,” Scahill said. “My question is where are all the women that don’t have a GP going to go. They will be deprived of knowing how their kids' health is while they are pregnant. Some women don’t even get to know about pregnancy until they go to the mat clinic. 

“It’s a disservice to all families that live here and in the rural communities. They are truly taking away the ability to access proper care. I can’t imagine that anyone would be OK with this especially when it comes to the health of a woman and a child.”

“Since the UCP took office 18 months ago the quality of health care available to Albertans has decreased and the medical system is less effective and less efficient,” said Dr. Bill Ruzycki, a Medicine Hat family physician. “This has been exacerbated by COVID-19 but was inevitable with the UCP cuts. COVID-19 has highlighted the dangers of trying to operate a medical system on a knife edge with no surplus capacity.”

“Ask any health care worker in Alberta or any patient in Alberta if they think the health care system is better after the first 18 months or worse,” Ruzycki said.

“This UCP government continues to ignore women,” said Janis Irwin, NDP Opposition Critic for the Status of Women and LGBTQ2S+ Issues. “If women don’t have the health care they need in their community, it puts their lives, their health, and their safety at risk. It makes no sense.”

“Jason Kenney doesn’t care about southern Alberta,” said Shannon Phillips, MLA for Lethbridge-West. “Our communities are watching doctors leave and clinics close, while all this UPC government does is bully healthcare workers during a pandemic.”