NEWS

Health care hot-button issue in west Quebec

08/17/2012 09:23 EDT | Updated 10/17/2012 05:12 EDT
West Quebec residents are crossing the border into Ottawa for what they believe is better health care, and candidates in the provincial election are facing questions about how they would solve the problem.

Last year, Quebec paid $107.8 million to the province of Ontario for Quebec patients to get treated in Ottawa.

Critics wonder why that money isn't being used to improve service in west Quebec, where a shortage of doctors has been an ongoing problem.

Dr. Gilles Aubé, the Parti Quebecois candidate in Hull, said his party would like to set up a special commission to deliver better health care in the Outaouais.

'We are losing control'

"We are losing control. We are losing the ground," said Aubé, who would like to see more of the services delivered in Quebec.

Gatineau resident Sue Goldman said her doctor sent her to Ottawa for surgery for a form of ovarian cancer because there were no specialists capable of doing the procedure in Gatineau.

She said getting treated in Ottawa is her preference.

"Actually I was quite pleased. The hospital there is a little bit nicer and more modern than the hospital here," said Goldman.

Health minister Yves Bolduc, speaking at Hull hospital Thursday, said the province is working to improve the situation.

"We're correcting that. We have more specialists. We have more family doctors and it's getting better and better... to come here to Quebec," said Bolduc.

More specialists in Ottawa

Bolduc said some west Quebec patients will always choose to go Ottawa because of its size.

"Ottawa is a big town like Montreal. You have specialized services that can only be given there," said Bolduc.

Goldman said she isn't sure any of the political parties has the solution.

"I think the Gatineau side is neglected by the government. The PQ I'm sure is no better. I think we need more doctors, more family doctors... and we need less wait times," she said.

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