57 Magdalen Islands patients suffering from chronic pain have to wait two months patiently with a specialist doctor after an Air Canada flight was cancelled.

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The crisis hitting the country’s airports isn’t just ruining vacations. Talk to Dr. David Landry, who has been traveling to the islands regularly for the past five years to provide medical imaging services and cortisone and anesthetic infiltrations.


David Landry, Physician Radiologist

Photo courtesy of Dominique Lelièvre

David Landry, Physician Radiologist

As is about every two months, the doctor-radiologist traveled to Montreal-Trudeau Airport last Sunday, July 3, to catch a flight to the archipelago. But at the last moment, the nasty surprise: Air Canada is canceling its flight, citing “factors related to the pandemic that are beyond our control”.

The doctor, who works at Montreal’s Notre-Dame hospital, was finally able to catch another flight on Tuesday but couldn’t make up for the lost forty-eight hours.

“This means that on Monday and Tuesday morning all appointments had to be cancelled. A total of 58 appointments were canceled. So that’s 58 patients who will live with their pain for another two months,” he regrets.

Of those 58 appointments, only one could be resumed later in the week as the remainder of the doctor’s schedule on the islands was already occupied with other patients.

No premiere

The doctor regrets that this is not the first time he and his colleagues have had headaches about air travel. He names three other unforeseen events at Pascan in recent months: a disrupted flight, a reservation problem and confused instructions at the airport.

“All the colleagues who come here have similar stories. You really have to have a strong back to come here,” he says.

“What worries me a lot is that all of these issues result in patients not receiving their treatment. »

The doctor wants the government to intervene in the file to bring more reliability to the flight service. He suggests examining the possibility of allocating a weekly flight to staff providing essential services.

uncertain future

Because if nothing changes, the stress on the journey and the lack of efficiency, both for him and for the patients, could be due to his commitment.

“I’ve already promised that I’ll continue next year, but if it doesn’t improve or if it gets worse I really can’t make any more promises for 2024,” he said regretfully.

When asked to respond, Air Canada blames “the lack of resources experienced by third-party providers [qui] Impact on airport operations and airline industry,” for Sunday’s flight cancellation.

The carrier always assures that he will do everything possible to find an alternative solution for his customers and says: “Understood[re] completely the disappointment and “inconvenience” they are experiencing.

The CISSS fears resignations

The CISSS des Îles-de-la-Madeleine fears that unless air traffic reliability stabilizes, medical specialists will leave the region.

Due to its remoteness, the archipelago relies on a hundred out-of-town doctors who come from time to time to provide specialized care.

“There are doctors who are showing that they might quit at some point, which definitely worries me,” says CEO Sophie Doucet.

She says she’s in frequent contact with Pascan, which, unlike Air Canada, offers year-round air travel. The CISSS also has a contract with her for the carriage of users.

According to the figures presented to him, the reliability index is increasing.

“However, there are possible solutions that have been studied and are being implemented by Pascan, so I dare to believe that the situation has improved in recent weeks. »

Despite everything, she follows the case closely. “There is tremendous fragility and the entire aviation world is affected. »

Pascan did not respond to our request for comment.

Not surprised

According to Ms. Doucet, the pandemic, labor shortages, changes in federal regulations, mechanical breakdowns and difficult weather conditions last winter are factors that contributed to the situation.

The MP for the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Joël Arseneau, expressed no surprise at the mishap of Dr. David Landry. “It is symptomatic of a situation that has persisted since at least the beginning of the pandemic. »

last May, The newspaper reported the testimony of another specialist, an ophthalmologist, who was considering closing her practice in the region because of travel irritants.

According to Mr. Arseneau, the Legault administration has missed its target with its $500 program for airline tickets in the regions.

“The airlines are understaffed, there’s a shortage of pilots, there’s planes that aren’t always very reliable, there’s the weather, so we’re increasing the problem layers and we’re overlaying one by saying: we’re going to reduce traffic on flights.” increasing it was difficult,” he said.

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