Planned Parenthood Regina was forced to close its doors in April, leaving patients and staff in shambles going months without access to the clinic.
“We were leaving a gap, and we know that,” said executive director Risa Payant. “Especially for folks who don’t have a family practitioner, who are the vast majority of people here in Regina.”
After only having joined Planned Parenthood for a month, Payant said she received an ultimatum from the non-profit’s former landlord over problems with accessibility and location. After that, they were given 30 days to move out.
“It was quite a shock. It was certainly something that none of us saw coming. And I think that’s really important for the public to know.” Payant was devastated, “there were some tears in my office.”
All of the staff was laid off besides Payant and the clinic director during the challenging time. Since April, the clinic remained closed, using phone and pop-up clinics to communicate with the community. It’s a start, but these don’t cover nearly everything.
“The thing that we have been unable to do via phone or pop up clinics is sales of contraceptives which left a huge gap here in the city for sure,” Payant said.
Many in the city may have been left wondering why the clinic doors have been shut to the public for so long, and have only just secured a new spot. However the clinic’s realtor, Danny Jones, said these wait times are not uncommon.
“They contacted me, and they needed something immediately. I kind of tried to put the brakes on that and put realistic expectations on, because usually, from beginning to end when you collect your keys it should be three to six months,” Jones said
Although the wait times may have been normal, Payant shares that the clinic ran into some strange altercations with various locations they were attempting to secure.
“We did, in fact, have a few landlords who we thought would have good value alignment, but at the end of lengthy lease negotiations, they’d slip in clauses that limited our ability to do medical terminations. And so obviously, we have to walk away from those relationships to make sure that community comes first and our service to community is tantamount in all the decision making.”
During the time of the closure and the attempts to secure a new location, abortion was an extreme topic of debate in the States. As Roe v. Wade’s guarantee to constitutional abortion was overturned in America, Saskatchewan landlords may have felt uncomfortable or it be a risk leasing to an abortion clinic.
Jones agrees, but as a realtor explained that aspect cannot affect his work.
“The biggest challenges were kind of pushing back on people saying what’s happening in the States is happening here. But you have to be careful about that … As just an agent, I couldn’t add any fuel to that. I just had to purely advise on real estate.”