Growing number of Quebecers seeking healthcare in Ontario
Published Thursday, January 24, 2013 3:05PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 24, 2013 3:06PM EST
Many people living west of Montreal are choosing to head to Ontario when they need emergency health care.
With a new hospital in Vaudreuil on hold, families say emergency care at the Lakeshore General Hospital is either too far away or too overcrowded.
Instead they are going to Ontario and seeking care in Hawkesbury or Alexandria.
Kim and Judah Sschaap saw when either of their two children fall ill, finding a doctor is a bigger problem than it needs to be.
"When my daughter got sick over Christmas I felt panicked as to where I was going to take her. Pediatricians are closed, the Montreal Children's Hospital is on TV saying please don't come," said Kim Schaap.
"The closest hospital is Lakeshore or Valleyfield, and that's for Hudson, Ste. Lazare, Pincourt, Vaudreuil, Ile Perrot..."
With the population growing in those areas ER waiting times are growing too, as she discovered when her son Wyatt got sick.
"The triage nurse saw him and said it would be a twelve-hour wait, even though his temperature was 105 when we got there," Schaap said.
So they headed west, and Wyatt was treated at Alexandria Hospital
"We shouldn't have to go over the border to Ontario, but as a parent you do what you need to do," said Judah Schaap.
Cornwall hospital has also been a regular destination for some Quebecers, with an increase of about 400 ER visits in the last ten years.
"We would track our Quebec days, or visits, and bill the province of Quebec," said Jeanette Despatie, the CEO of Cornwall Community Hospital.
Hawkesbury Hospital in a more frequent destination, seeing almost 19,000 Quebecers in 2011, costing Quebec's government about $20 million.
Getting care in Ontario is possible because of a provincial hospital agreement that allows Ontario hospitals to accept Quebec's medicare cards and vice versa.
Since 2000 Quebec has paid Ontario almost $1.4 billion.
A steep price but for a service that the Schaap family, among others, is very happy with.
On their last visit to Alexandria they were in and out in an hour.
"I find it amazing the fact that I can go there and be seen so quickly, but I find it pathetic that I have to go to another province to get health care," said Schaap.