Womens groups call for support in rural areas

Staff ~ Transcontinental Media
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Say families are being broken apart by gloomy outlook

Trevor Taylor

The womens council in this town is the latest group calling on the provincial government for greater support for the southwest coast.

In recent weeks, the town and the Chamber of Commerce have accused the provincial government, particularly the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, of providing inadequate services to the area.

In its defence, Minister Trevor Taylor has called the claims unfounded.

However, Vanessa MacArthur, president of the Gateway Status of Women Council, said women on the council are saddened by this apparent lack of support.

She proclaimed their support in the call for the province to create and fund a task force for the southwest coast.

Our family units are being dismantled, she said. Men and women are leaving their children and spouses, and it is a direct result of the economic downturn in rural Newfoundland.

While some women face leaving their families behind and looking for work elsewhere, other women are being left at home with their children and facing the struggle of raising their family as a single parent. Often, this becomes very stressful for the family as a whole, and may prompt them to either move away permanently to reunite with their family members or their family unit breaks down, MacArthur said.

This should not be.

She reiterated the apparent lack of co-operation from some government departments, saying they only have one representative on the 10-member rural secretariat. She also said health-care needs seem to be treated with less importance than other areas.

We have been without an anesthetist at our hospital for more than two years and access to basic medical services is suffering as a result, she said.

Women are sent by ambulance to Corner Brook for childbirth and that certainly raises some red flags for our council. It is a two-hour drive and weather always seems to be an obstacle, considering the Wreckhouse separates the two communities.

In addition to services for women, obtaining a renal dialysis unit in our town seems to be a hopeless struggle.

MacArthur is calling on the provincial government to fund a task force, and to expand it to address issues affecting health care and economic development.

Taylor recently told The Western Star he doesnt foresee a task force as a possibility for the southwest coast.

The Western Star

Organizations: Chamber of Commerce, Department of Innovation, Rural Development Women Council

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Western Star, Corner Brook

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