Pontiac Warden Jane Toller said that she was shocked to learn that there had been a 138% increase in Quebec babies born at the Pembroke Hospital over the last year.
The data was compiled in an article by Justine Mercier for Le Droit, revealing the impact of the February 2020 closure of the Pontiac Hospital’s obstetrics unit. The article states that between 2019 and 2020, there were 39 Quebec babies born across the river in Pembroke, but in 2020-2021, that figure had more than doubled to 93. According to data from the CISSSO obtained by Mercier, roughly two thirds (68%) of Pontiac mothers gave birth in Ontario between November 2020 and June 2021. For the entire Outaouais region, just under a third of births (30.6%) took place in Ontario during that same time period.
Toller said that she had been communicating with the CISSSO on this file, and that it was caused by a lack of nursing staff. She said that the recent announcement by the provincial government that all health care workers be vaccinated by October 15 would only make the situation worse.
Toller stated that CISSSO’s Director General Josée Filion had assured her that after COVID-19, the reopening of the Pontiac Hospital’s obstetrics unit was her top priority. When asked if she truly believed that statement, given the size of the Pontiac relative to the rest of the Outaouais, Toller said that “all I can do is believe the answers I’ve been given.”
The full interview with Toller is available below.