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Backlog of health card applications cause for concern for Manitobans


It's yet another frustrating hurdle facing those trying to access health care in the province.

A Manitoba health card holdup is leaving some with no other option but to pay out of pocket for medical care.

"It was disappointing to discover that it is really difficult to access health care in this province," said Jeffrey Vallis, who moved back to Winnipeg in October and still waiting for his card.

It's been more than two months since he applied for his card and in that time, his Ontario health coverage has expired.

"I need that little piece of paper that allows me to access health care in this province and I don't have it.

"I'm in this weird limbo where I'm now a Manitoba resident again, and I've transferred over my license and my insurance, and I'm living here and working here. But I can't access health care here."

Manitoba Health's website notes a health card application should take four weeks, but at the moment, it says applications from August are currently being processed.

In a statement to CTV News Winnipeg, a spokesperson for the province said there are 9,180 outstanding health card applications to process as of Jan. 19.

"Which represents a 62 per cent decrease since Nov. 13, 2023, when 24,453 applications were outstanding," the spokesperson said.

Kyle Ross, the president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union, said the department covering applications is understaffed leading to the backlog.

"There's so much work and not enough people to do the job," said Ross. "There has to be work done to bring people in to do that work. It is unfortunate that Manitobans are really the ones who bear the brunt of these issues."

In an emailed statement to CTV News Winnipeg, Health Minister Uzoma Asagwara said it is concerning to see Manitobans struggling to get a card.

"I have been clear with my department that reducing these wait times are a priority," said Asagwara.

With no immediate health coverage, Vallis said he is trying to get answers.

"When I tried calling the health number, I got an automatic message that said, 'We're experiencing higher than normal call volumes. Try again later.' And it disconnected the call," said Vallis.

He has tried emailing his MLA and the Health Minister. Asagwara said the department will look into Vallis' situation and help where possible.

But in the meantime, there is still no health card for Vallis.

"I have no idea when I'll get a health card and when I'll be able to access health services in Manitoba, despite being born and raised here and being a Canadian citizen." Top Stories

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