December 13, 2017

Winnipeg
-7° C, Light freezing drizzle

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Outpatient therapy cuts condemned at legislature rally

A small but boisterous crowd gathered outside the Manitoba legislature Thursday afternoon to protest looming cuts to outpatient physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

In a contentious move, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is set to close the bulk of its outpatient programming as soon as next month for expected savings of $1.5 million this fiscal year.

Patients, physiotherapists and the unions representing them were heartened last week when the WRHA decided it would use "clinical guidelines" instead of a means test to decide which small group of patients would still have access to the public service. However, many remain concerned that the cost of private physiotherapy will prove prohibitive for Manitobans who won't qualify but will require therapy to successfully recover.

"Patients first! Patients first!" the crowd chanted.

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 60 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Add a payment method

To read the remaining 304 words of this article.

Pay only 27¢ for articles you wish to read.

Hope you enjoyed your trial.

Add a payment method

To read the remaining 304 words of this article.

Pay only 27¢ for articles you wish to read.

A small but boisterous crowd gathered outside the Manitoba legislature Thursday afternoon to protest looming cuts to outpatient physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

In a contentious move, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is set to close the bulk of its outpatient programming as soon as next month for expected savings of $1.5 million this fiscal year.

Patients, physiotherapists and the unions representing them were heartened last week when the WRHA decided it would use "clinical guidelines" instead of a means test to decide which small group of patients would still have access to the public service. However, many remain concerned that the cost of private physiotherapy will prove prohibitive for Manitobans who won't qualify but will require therapy to successfully recover.

"Patients first! Patients first!" the crowd chanted.

Shelley Kowalchuk, a physiotherapist at Health Sciences Centre who says she isn't at risk of losing her job, said she went to the rally to speak for her patients, not her union.

Under the new system, HSC will house the only remaining public outpatient programs but Kowalchuk said it won't fill the need.

"The government still thinks that Manitobans have private health coverage," she said. "They think that Manitobans have enough coverage to have physio after complex injuries."

Not so, Kowalchuk said.

At $60 a session, physio can quickly eat through the insurance of the small portion of the population that actually has it; most will get five or six sessions covered, she said, which isn't enough in cases involving "complex injuries" that may require months of treatment.

"Private physio is out of reach for many people," she said. "They can't afford it, so they won't get it."

Manitoba Federation of Labour president Kevin Rebeck said its clear from the calls the MFL has received that there is a lot of concern about health-care changes.

"We hear from our community partners, from students, from seniors and from so many other voices that Manitobans want a health-care system that's there for them when they need it and where they need it," he told the crowd.

"Cutting physiotherapists out from the public delivery is wrong. Cutting emergency rooms and closing them down is wrong. Cutting and closing urgent-care clinics is wrong."

Bob Moroz is president of the Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals, which represents the majority of Winnipeg outpatient physiotherapists. He says he's increasingly offended by suggestions — particularly from within the provincial government — that rallying health-care workers "only care about our union cards," not patient care.

"We're part of different unions," he said, "and we're fighting for the same thing."

Read more by Jane Gerster.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.