Municipal governments are coming together to lobby the province for changes to greatly improve health care at Ste. Anne Hospital. 

Richard Pelletier, Reeve for the Rural Municipality of Ste. Anne, says there are many reasons why the hospital should be designated as a regional centre, and his council is not the only one that feels this way. 

They are joined by the Town of Ste. Anne, the Rural Municipality of La Broquerie, the R.M. of Tache, as well as the Association of Manitoba Bilingual Municipalities. 

Pelletier says the Ste. Anne Hospital services around 30,000 people, many of them are bilingual or Metis, and he feels they all deserve easier access to health care services locally rather than having to travel into Winnipeg. 

He explains why a regional designation would greatly improve health care in Ste. Anne. 

“The difference is, because we’re not regional, the doctors are not getting paid as well as in other places, and they do not get the support, the resources. So, they cannot give the services the other hospitals can give,” Pelletier says. 

Yvan St. Vincent, Mayor for the Town of Ste. Anne, says better pay for health care professionals would make it easier to attract and retain hospital staff as well as doctors. 

A regional designation would also mean the Emergency Department could not be closed; it would have to be open 24-7. St. Vincent says he is hearing numbers that indicate the Ste. Anne E.R. is just as busy as the E.R. at Bethesda Regional Health Centre in Steinbach. 

So, when there are reduced hours for the E.R. in Ste. Anne, St. Vincent suggests this must have an impact on the Bethesda’s E.R. as people would have to look elsewhere for emergency health care. 

When the Ste. Anne Emergency Room is open, the numbers support having the hospital designated as a regional centre, he says. 

The regional designation would also impact lab services at the hospital. St. Vincent says there is very little activity in the lab right now, simply because it’s not staffed the way it would be with a regional designation. 

Pelletier says the hospital is in the middle of a growing region with a large population of bilingual and Metis people, with a lot of traffic on the highways nearby, and a lot of outdoor recreation like snowmobiling and ATV riding. It just makes sense to have a bilingual regional health centre in Ste. Anne, he says. 

Both Pelletier and St. Vincent say area residents are asking for improved services and the only way that can happen is if the province is on board. 

“We are politicians lobbying the province for regional designation,” says Pelletier, noting that this designation and all that comes with it would greatly improve healthcare in the region, not only for Ste. Anne residents. 

St. Vincent adds that it would also help take pressure off Bethesda Regional Health Centre in Steinbach. 

The Ste. Anne Hospital has a helipad for Stars air ambulance and Pelletier says there is land available to support an expansion when a larger facility is necessary. 

“We want to improve the service for our residents,” St. Vincent notes. 

Pelletier says the group sent a letter to the government this past winter and they still have not heard any response. 

St. Vincent says the group is eager to move forward with this and would like to meet with the province to provide any additional information required. 

Politicians don’t often agree on things, Pelletier says, but regionalizing the Ste. Anne Hospital is something this entire group strongly supports. 

Although they have not heard a response from the province, St. Vincent is confident this government will act soon and that it will be favourable for the region. 

“We hear that healthcare is a priority for them. We hear that overarching message, nothing specific to our group, but healthcare is a priority for them. And so, we trust that one day, that conversation will evolve to where we need it to get to.”