Dialysis project is safe says MNA Fortin offers assurances on health and education

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Allyson Beauregard

PONTIAC – With over $600,000 raised through various fundraising efforts and generous donations, the dialysis project remains a priority for the Pontiac’s population; it has been one of the largest projects at

Allyson Beauregard

PONTIAC – With over $600,000 raised through various fundraising efforts and generous donations, the dialysis project remains a priority for the Pontiac’s population; it has been one of the largest projects at
the Pontiac Community Hospital. With the implementation of Bill 10 on April 1, which eliminated various administration positions at the former Centre de Sante et de Services sociaux du Pontiac (CSSSP) when it was merged with other institutions to form the Centres integres de sante et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais (CISSSO), many feared
the dialysis project would be forgotten in a time
of reduced government spending.
“They have it (a
dialysis machine) in Hull, Maniwaki, Gatineau, Buckingham … we were promised this, so where is it? The community has raised more than $600,000, but you need the building and infrastructure to
support it, which is clearly a government thing,” stated Shawville’s Dr. Thomas O’Neill. He also noted each dialysis patient requires about eight hours of treatment, three times a week in the city, which has a major impact on the patient’s family in regards to time spent travelling and other associated costs.
Despite major governmental cutbacks in an attempt to reach ‘deficit zero’, Pontiac MNA Andre Fortin assured the
population that the dialysis project will move forward. “Driving to Hull for
dialysis services takes a toll on local patients, as does the treatment itself. Offering it locally would indeed change the lives of these patients for the best. I will be working with
the new CISSSO administrators, and with Pontiac’s new Head of Health Establishment, Gail Ryan, over the coming weeks to ensure we set out a path for the realization of the
dialysis project. While there remains much work to be done, the project remains one of my priorities,” he said, without giving a
precise timeframe.
In addition to the
dialysis project, Fortin offered reassurance that no services will be lost due to the administrative changes. “Changes in administration will allow for cost savings, which is great news for taxpayers. However, administrative changes do not
necessarily lead to reductionin services. In fact, Pontiacers can be assured, health services will not be reduced. Every point of service in the Pontiac (CLSCs, the PCH, etc.) will remain and every service offered at these points of service will remain,” he said, noting that while
there were administrative changes, overall budgets for both health and education were increased in the 2015 budget.
Health and education budgets lacking
Although the total
education budget was increased by $30,487,500 and the total health care budget by $460,883,600 from last year, these amounts have been
criticized as not being able to keep up with inflation. While Fortin explained that primary and secondary schools received a normal increase in funding, funding for higher education is down. “While the global spending for higher
education is reduced, in growth regions such as West Quebec, there are important needs which were recognized. For
example, we recently announced an investment in Adult Education in
West Quebec, as our region’s only English language College (Heritage) received a $12 million investment to add to its infrastructure and welcome 20% more students,” explained Fortin who
said the investment will
contribute to the addition of more skilled workers in the Pontiac region. 
Addressing the
province’s debt
As it stands, Quebec’s debt is well over $200
billion. “Every year, the payment on the debt’s interest alone is around $8.3 billion, which is about the same as the money invested in elementary and high school education,” added Fortin. “I am not willing to keep adding to this debt, to keep spending beyond our collective means, and simply pass along the tab to future
generations.
Our sons and daughters deserve better than to have to live with the result of excessive spending.”
The 2015 budget, unveiled April 1, is the seventh balanced budget in 40 years. According to Fortin, a balanced budget is instrumental in attracting investors to the province and is a direction the Liberal government intends to keep for years to come. “As a province, we cannot continue to have the highest tax rate in Canada and post the highest debt per capita. This is a significant turnaround for our province,” he concluded.