The chaos at Montreal and Toronto airports, coupled with the lack of staff that is forcing Air Canada to delay or even cancel many flights, is causing headaches for hospital managers in northern Ontario who are struggling to to be able to keep their emergency rooms open.
The problem is particularly felt in Hearst, a French-speaking community of about 5,000 inhabitants in the north of the province, located halfway between Timmins and Thunder Bay.
The director of Notre-Dame de Hearst Hospital, Liza Fortier, explained to the newspaper Le Nord on Monday that she was unable to find a replacement doctor to keep the emergency room open. It could therefore be forced to close within three weeks.
However, the many delays at airports are not unrelated to the problem, said the hospital's recruitment coordinator, Mélanie Goulet, to the CTV channel.
“We are already struggling to find doctors to work in our small community, and having flight cancellations complicates everything,” she said, pointing out that five hospitals in northern Ontario had to close their emergencies temporarily in the last few days.
On the Hearst side, a doctor had to work 24 hours of overtime to keep the emergency room open during the last weekend. Her replacement, Dr. Vivian Ma, was scheduled to fly from Montreal to Toronto, then Timmins, on Air Canada's wings, but her second flight was canceled upon arrival in Toronto and rescheduled for July 2.
Dr. Ma told CTV that in the past two months, none of her flights to work have been able to depart on time, while three were canceled in June alone.