Northwestern Ontario residents are still able to receive healthcare services in Manitoba, despite large spikes of COVID-19 cases in the Winnipeg area.

President and CEO of the Lake of the Woods District Hospital, Ray Racette, confirms that northwestern Ontario residents – those west of Thunder Bay – as well as Nunavut residents are both considered Manitoba residents, which allows them to receive healthcare services in Manitoba that aren’t available locally.

“When COVID-19 first reared its head in March, it was a concern to us over access to our referral network,” explained Racette.

“In April, we received confirmation that patients and escorts travelling from northwestern Ontario and Nunavut, that for care purposes, they are considered Manitobans. That was really important, we do rely on Winnipeg for care and services that we can’t get here.”

“That was really important that for the first wave of COVID, we wouldn’t lose access to Winnipeg and we wouldn’t be considered out-of-province. Just a couple weeks ago, they have re-confirmed that it is still their position. As we go through this second wave, access to Manitoba care will still be in place.”

However, Racette notes that even though patients can still receive healthcare services in Manitoba, non-essential travel to the area should still be strictly avoided, a message that was reaffirmed by the Northwestern Health Unit earlier this week.

“The Northwestern Health Unit is really encouraging people to recognize that Manitoba is an outbreak. Northwestern Ontario isn’t, but that doesn’t mean we’re not at risk,” Racette added.

Anyone travelling to Winnipeg is asked to avoid visiting anyone for 14 days upon their return, especially anyone who is at high-risk of complications or death from COVID-19. These may include those in long-term care homes, immuno-compromised people, and those aged 60 years or older.

The Province of Manitoba lists the Winnipeg Metropolitan Area as a Critical outbreak, and the province as a whole is under Restricted guidelines. Manitoba is reporting 6,275 cases with a 9 per cent positivity rate, with 3,455 active cases, 124 current hospitalizations and 80 deaths.

For more information:
Stay in the northwest: NWHU
MB Premier Announces More COVID-19 Enforcement And Possible Curfew