“We know that early intervention is key. And every day that goes by we’re missing the boat. We’re missing the opportunity to get her to a place where she needs to be,” Graham Dickson told reporters of his daughter Helen.
Helen, who turns one this week, is currently on a waitlist for an MRI, her parents say. They add they don’t know when her name will be called.
Meanwhile her physical therapy, which started shortly after birth, has been suspended. Her parents say the therapist was redeployed to support pandemic efforts. They said they believe the severity of the fourth wave and the related slowdowns were avoidable.
“Whether it’s going to be able to have proper vision, to play sports, even just to walk. I worry every day, how this delay is going to impact her.”
Her situation was repeatedly utilized by NDP leader Ryan Meili who criticized government COVID-19 response for the fourth straight day.
“Today we’re joined by Graham Dickson, Laura Weins and their beautiful baby Helen, who turns one next week,” Meili said during question period.
“Does the Premier recognize how unfair this fourth wave has been to people like Helen?”
In response, Premier Moe said the SHA plans to resume slowed down services by 50 per cent next week, 75 per cent the following week, and by 90 per cent by the end of the month.
“The resumption of some of those services is happening as we speak,” Moe responded, adding that the decision to introduce a mask mandate in September was made for people like Helen.
“We’re actively looking at how we can get our surgery capacity back as well.”
Health Minister Paul Merriman also responded to Meili’s questions, saying his own child once experienced a delayed surgery and added that he’d be “more than happy” to sit down with Helen and her family.
“We understand that pausing that for a time does have an impact on that young child. That’s exactly why we’ve laid out a plan for the next month to get these programs and services resumed.”
Following question period, Merriman briefly visited with the family.
While he didn’t share the specifics of the conversation, he said he empathized with the parents as his own daughter once faced delays receiving medical treatment, and “apologized that they’re in this circumstance and told them I hope to get them out of it as soon as I can.”
“It reminded me of what happened with my daughter. It’s a young girl with blond hair having some challenges medically. It’s very heartbreaking as a parent to be able to go through that. I try to understand what they’re going through, from real life experience of myself. It’s not easy.”
For Helen’s parents, though, the promise of a service return offers little hope.
“There might be a resumption of services, but that doesn’t mean next week she’s gonna get physical therapy,” Dickson said.
“It also doesn’t mean that there’s been a pause in demand since everything slowed down.”
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