• Stuart Benson

Is there a doctor in the riding?

New MP pledges funding for nurses, doctors, others

If you were looking for an example of the problems facing our healthcare system in the Pontiac, look no further than to our new MP Sophie Chatel. She’s been waiting two decades for a family doctor.


Newly elected Pontiac MP, Liberal Sophie Chatel has been on the job for less than a week but said she won’t waste any time and will immediately tackle the riding’s most pressing issue, the shortage of healthcare workers. Stuart Benson photo
Newly elected Pontiac MP, Liberal Sophie Chatel has been on the job for less than a week but said she won’t waste any time and will immediately tackle the riding’s most pressing issue, the shortage of healthcare workers. Stuart Benson photo

“This affects so many of us, not just me,” newly elected Liberal MP Sophie Chatel told The Low Down on Sept. 24. “I've lived in this riding for 20 years, so I know the access is horrible.”


That’s why Chatel said her biggest priority as the riding's parliamentary representative will be to address the “historic” underfunding that the Pontiac, and the Outaouais in general, have endured, which has contributed to the current deficit of healthcare resources and staff.


“If we don't fix it, we could be heading to a collapse of our healthcare system,” Chatel warned.


Chatel added that the situation is exacerbated by the fact that the region borders Ontario, meaning the Pontiac’s healthcare staff can easily cross the border for better pay and improved working conditions.


“When I spoke with doctors and nurses on the campaign trail, they told me that it's not just about more money, it's about improving the working conditions as well,” Chatel said.


She explained that one of the main issues raised by healthcare workers she speaks to is the subject of mandatory overtime.


"It's routine that they are asked to stay for double shifts," Chatel added. “We ask our frontline workers to constantly choose between their families and their work, and who would want to keep making that choice?”


Chatel pledged to not only increase funding to healthcare services in the riding, but to ensure that the money goes to where it is needed.


According to Chatel, it means ensuring that the per-capita rate of doctors to patients is improved across the board, rather than see the majority of the money sent to the largest population centres.


“The funding needs to go where the needs are,” Chatel said.


Chatel said her priorities as the MP of Pontiac will be working with the province to improve high-speed internet; Indigenous reconciliation and bringing clean drinking water to Kitigan Zibi; fighting climate change, and improving the agricultural sector by promoting agricultural tourism and buy-local initiatives.