Premier urges patience from rural residents expecting quick fix to rural healthcare

Premier urges patience from rural residents expecting quick fix to rural healthcare

Manitoba premier Brian Pallister again urged patience — using farm analogies to underscore his point — on Thursday while answering questions about rural Manitoba hospitals and when some residents can expect promised changes and improvements. 

"When a farmer takes over a piece of land that's been neglected, it often takes three or four or five years to fix that piece of land up to get it to high production again," Pallister said when asked by reporters on Thursday what he would tell people who expected quicker fixes to things like emergency room closures. 

Doctor shortages and emergency room closures have been the norm in rural Manitoba for the past several years. Rural leaders, in some cases, have tried to take matters into their own hands, doling out hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to recruit professionals. 

In Killarney-Turtle Mountain, civic leaders spent $250,000 last March to hire a head-hunting company to "sell" the community and find doctors who wanted to stay beyond a four-year contract.

Pallister made the comments during a media scrum in Brandon following his state of the province address at a lunch event hosted by the Brandon Chamber of Commerce. His address featured the same tones and sentiments given the previous day in Winnipeg. 

Pallister turned to a farm analogy when asked about it. 

"I was raised by farm people," he said. "They understand you have to plant seeds in the spring to harvest in the fall."

"They know we're not going to change things around overnight."

The provincial government cut another $50 from ambulance fees April 1 — after cutting $50 in January — for a maximum price tag of $425. The province also eliminated all surcharges, including the $3-per-kilometre rate that used to be added to the base fee.