Another slap in the face to the Pontiac!

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Added: Wed, 02/01/2017 - 8:57pm
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Allyson Beauregard

Since the news was released about the Centre Intégré de la santé et des services sociaux de l'Outaouais' (CISSSO’s) decision to implement paid parking at the Pontiac Community Hospital as of March this year, the issue has been a very hot topic in the Pontiac.
From the creation of the Pontiac Voice citizen’s committee, to various letters to the editor (see page 5 of this issue, and page 5 of the January 18 edition), to attending CISSSO board meetings (see page 7), Pontiac residents have been making their strong opposition to the decision known. In this circumstance, we certainly can't be accused of sitting idle.
The CISSSO's justification of standardizing operations, complying with ministry guidelines, and ensuring parking lot maintenance is self-funded has done little to convince the populationthe measure is justifiable, much like our MNA's could-have-been-worse comparisons to rates charged at other institutions or statements that paid parking is the new reality for hospitals everywhere in Quebec and Ontario.
Even though a $4 daily maximum parking rate may not be that bad in
comparison to fees charged elsewhere there are many reasons for Pontiacers to be angry about decisions made by the CISSSO: the top-down manner in which this and other decisions have been applied without consultation, including the possible closure of the Pavillon du Parc in Shawville; the lack of understanding of rural realities; our MNA's support for this and other measures; or even the decision to charge for parking itself.
The most troubling aspect of this situation is the CISSSO's apparent total lack of concern for local perspectives and their lack of interest in entertaining or addressing residents' views, questions and worries.
In response to Pontiac Voice's request for a local, public meeting, CISSSO Director General Jean Hébert instead “invited” members to attend a general CISSSO Board of Director's meeting – in Gatineau. Those who attended were required to arrive early to register in order to ask questions about the issue - which were only addressed during a half-hour question period – and each person was limited to three questions.
From the CISSSO Media Relations Agent's statement that the decision is final and not open for negotiation (see page 2, January 18, 2017), to
M. Hébert's “invitation” to attend the CISSSO meeting, the Pontiac was
delivered the unspoken message that our concerns are not worthy of an hour-long drive for CISSSO management to come and meet with residents and that regardless of how much local opposition is shown, the decision will not be altered.
The decent – and most efficient – thing to do would have been for a few members of the CISSSO's management to come to the Pontiac and host a
public meeting to answer questions and concerns. Instead, Pontiac residents were hung out to dry and delivered the same dictatorial slap in the face they've been experiencing for years.
But an even greater disappointment would be submission, so dear readers please continue to make your views known: send letters to local newspapers, write your elected officials, file complaints with the CISSSO Complaints Commissioner, and continue to support collective actions. The formation of the CISSSO may have removed Pontiac's local administrators and decision-making power, but it cannot silence its voice.