For immediate release
June 11, 2019
Treaty One Territory, Winnipeg, MB – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) is increasingly concerned about the Province of Manitoba’s approach to managing the LifeFlight Air Ambulance Program.
“The LifeFlight Program is essential to the health and well-being of Manitoba residents who live in Northern and remote communities,” stated Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “Last week the province announced it is discontinuing the use of two Citations jets that have been used in the program until now. The province will use privately-owned jets instead; this is highly problematic. Citation aircrafts are able to land safely on the short gravel runways that are common in many of our First Nations. Private jets may be unable to land and safely take off from many of our First Nations—which means our citizens may be unable to access life-saving health services during times of medical distress.”
For 30 years, the LifeFlight Air Ambulance Program has operated without any major safety incidences. Created after an inquest was held following the wrongful death of a woman from St. Theresa Point First Nation, this program provides critical care via specialized physicians, nurses, and pilots who are experienced and committed to providing excellent service to northern First Nation (and non-First Nation) Manitobans.
“The changes the province is making unilaterally are completely unacceptable,” said Grand Chief Settee. “We are concerned that by privatizing these services, safety will be compromised. MKO had reached out to the Province of Manitoba in February and we never heard back about our request to meet on this critical issue. I am once again urging the province to work with us. We need to collaborate and work together to ensure health services are accessible and do not cause undue harm to citizens living in Northern Manitoba.”