It was announced on July 5, that the Red Lake Margaret Cochenour Memorial Hospital (RLMCMH) will be closing its Emergency Department for a 12-hour period on Thursday, July 7, from 8:00 pm until 8:00 am on Friday morning due to a physician shortage.  

The next closest Emergency Department is in Dryden, over 216 kilometres away.  

In a statement, Mayor Fred Mota of Red Lake said “This is unacceptable and requires immediate and meaningful attention from the provincial government.”  

“There should never be a moment where our community does not have ER services. Having a closure puts our entire community, neighbours, and visitors at risk. I would only assume these issues do not occur in Southern Ontario.” 

Mayor Mota concluded by saying “Respectfully looking for action now, with impactful and sustainable results!”  

This isn’t the first time RLMCMH has been forced to close their ER doors this year due to staffing issues. Just this past March, there was a closure from 8:00 pm on March 26, to 8:00 am the following morning.  

Anyone who needs emergency care on Thursday night is asked to dial 911, they will direct you to the correct procedures from there. For less emergent health issues, residents are asked to call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000. 

Ontario ranks seventh among Canadian provinces in the number of family doctors per 100,000 patients, and the shortage is made worse in northern and rural areas, according to data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information. 

They add that Ontario spends an average of 8 per cent less on healthcare per capita than any other province in Canada outside of British Columbia.