Three years later, PCs have yet to deliver on promised mental health programs for grieving women and families

September 1, 2020

TREATY 1 TERRITORY, WINNIPEG, MB - The Pallister PC government has yet to deliver on a Pregnancy and Infant Loss Program, a mental health program for grieving women and families promised as part of a $400-million federal-provincial agreement.

On August 21, 2017, more than three years ago, the Pallister PCs first committed to a 10-year, $400-million federal-provincial funding agreement for health care.

Included in the promise was a commitment to create a province-wide mental health support program for a minimum of 200 women a year who miscarry or lose a child in the first year after birth.

Specifically, the commitment would create a "Community-based program for families dealing with the loss of a child during pregnancy and infancy (first year of life), delivered through collaborative partnerships... it is estimated that approximately 15% of women experience some sort of perinatal mental health issue."

When the Manitoba Liberals sent in a freedom of information request to see how many women and families had been helped, it turned out the program hasn't even started.

Dougald Lamont, MLA for St. Boniface and Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party said the foot-dragging is a sign of two chronic problems on the part of the Pallister government: neglecting women's health and leaving hundreds of millions in desperately needed federal money on the table.

"The federal money is there but the PCs have chosen to hoard it instead of delivering mental health programs for grieving mothers and families. When it comes to mental health care and women's health, this government has been absolutely heartless," said Lamont.

The Pallister PCs cut women's health programs at the Victoria Hospital, lactation specialists at HSC, and there was a crisis in staffing at the neonatal ICU at St. Boniface Hospital.

The original agreement shows that funds were supposed to start flowing in 2017. The Pallister government didn't sign the deal until March 2019.

The WRHA only issued a request for proposal (RFP) to create the program a few of weeks ago, on August 10, 2020, after the Manitoba Liberals submitted their freedom of information request on July 27, 2020.

"The money is there. The promise was there. This should have happened years ago, and the reason it didn't is that women's health is not a priority for the PCs," said Lamont.

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