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Christmas is just around the corner. This year, will you: :

New hospital, no public input?

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Added: Wed, 10/21/2020 - 12:52pm
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Fred Ryan
Éditorialiste Invitée
Guest Editorialist

Our government has announced a new 600-bed mega-hospital "in the Outaouais".  This came with fanfare ... but no details.
It fulfils an election promise of the CAQ, and should improve our region's dismal record of health-service provision – a record made worse by the previous government's centralization of health services. Few details, other than an opening date of 2030 – and, oh yes, those 600 beds are not all new ones.
Almost half of the "new beds" will be beds we already have and they will be
centralized in the new facility – by closing existing facilities. Pause right there, please. One new hospital, yes, but how many closures? Pontiac's hospital? Wakefield's?  Buckingham's? CISSSO, the region's health authority, refuses to answer public questions.
If we look at CISSSO's quite embarassing record so far (CISSSO's two major hospitals rank at the bottom of the entire province), we see that Pontiac's previously high-ranking rural hospital has steadily lost crucial services: nursing, obstetrics, and now physiotherapy assessments. Pontiac's CLSCs have been starved and cannibalized, local management of local services has been wiped out – a record of centralizing services, making them less available to local citizens and subject to a mammoth bureaucracy which seems to run from one mistake to the next. With similar complaints from Wakefield and Buckingham, how can we be enthusiastic about this latest announcement?
Since the new facility will no doubt be built in Gatineau (CISSSO should be
re-named CISSS-G), the Outaouais' sizeable rural population will be further away from health services -- and, today, in a red-zone. We should toast this announcement?
It seems the health services' last real success was the birthing centre in Gatineau, long ago. Since then Quebec's health ministry has managed to lose nurses (by keeping pay rates lower than Ontario's), close obstetrics, render Wakefield/Gatineau Hills almost service-less, and preside over the worst COVID-19 record in all of Canada!    Shouldn't the announcement have been that the new Minister is re-organizing – and decentralizing – his ministry's and CISSSO's too-big-to-manage mandates?
The CAQ presents itself as anti-big government, and close to the people.  Instead, it's indistinguishable from the last Liberal government (which destroyed Pontiac's modest health-system self-management)! The Outaouais, especially rural, needs an end to centralization and top-down control – and an end to CISSSO's culture of "expert-only" decision making.
CISSSO's experts have failed us too many times without apology or correction.
The Outaouais deserves public consultations on the new hospital, its location, and what should be centralized there. This includes using the expertise of local health professionals in reaching these decisions.  CISSSO's authoritarian bureaucracy has failed "the Outaouais" too many times, and its culture of unaccountability is an insult to the people it is to serve, you and I.