The clock is again ticking for Laval’s only perinatal resource centre (CRP) as Mieux-Naître à Laval will close its doors on the first of April if emergency funding is not obtained.
“Laval is the only one of Quebec’s 11 largest cities that does not have a CRP,” said MN executive director Lysane Grégoire. “We have already warned the government several times about this great injustice for Laval families. Minister Gaétan Barrette refuses to meet us, handing off the ball to the CISSS Laval (Integrated Health and Social Services Centre).”
The CISSS for its part, has long maintained that there are adequate resources in Laval, while it continues to collaborate with Mieux- Naître in terms of funding for breast-feeding programs.
Gregoire says a recent study proves otherwise, and that last year, despite the known precariousness of its situation, 1,527 families registered at Mieux-Naître. Last February a petition with more than 1200 supporters’ signatures was tabled in the National Assembly by Chomedey MNA Guy Ouellette. The city of Laval even picked up its rent for almost a year, but come April, with no government support, Mieux-Naître will have to close its doors.
“Laval has six Liberal MNAs,” noted Parti Québécois health critic Dianne Lamarre at the Concorde boulevard centre, while infants crawled, cooed and sobbed nearby. “I think they need to work harder to make their voices heard,” she said, noting vocal MN supporter and Laval Minister Francine Charbonneau has been unable to arrange a meeting between MN and Barrette who has insisted that the CISSS makes the call.
The presence of representatives of federal MPs Eva Nassif and Angelo Iacano at the centre, unanimous support of Laval council, the official opposition, and hundreds of families in the region with Quebec’s highest birth rate has still not prompted action in terms of funding.
After Barrette received the group’s petition last year, he forwarded $35,000 in discretionary funding. “Why then would he let this centre close” asked Gregoire. “No response has yet been provided.”
Grégoire says the issue is access and equity for 23 percent of Laval residents who don’t have family doctors. “A new mother can’t run to a clinic every week with questions or for support,” she said, Lamarre adding many young parents in Laval, including new immigrants which the city has worked hard to attract, do not live close to their larger families and have little support. “There is a period of vulnerability that young parents can experience so there’s a real element of prevention here. This type of resource exists all over Quebec and is funded. Why not Laval? why are Laval parents denied?
The organization and its supporters are heading to Quebec City on February 13 to put the question to legislators.