MRC Pontiac – André Fortin, Pontiac MNA and provincial Minister of Transport held two press conferences, Monday, January 15; in the morning he announced the contract had been awarded for the refurbishment of the Félix-Gabriel-Marchand bridge to Pavage Chenail from St-Rémi, for $5.1 million; early afternoon, he spoke of a province wide consultation tour to determine how to make allocation of funds for road improvements easier and more flexible; afterwards he met with the mayors as the start to the consultations. No new monies were announced.
In an interview with the Journal, just before Christmas, Fortin noted 2018 will be a busy year: as well as anticipating the bridge renovations he mentioned plans for an economic summit early in the New Year, road improvements and the opening of the dialysis unit at the Pontiac Community Hospital. The Journal asked him about other local issues:
What is your position on the report on health services in the Pontiac issued by Santé 2020, an independent organization?
Fortin said the report does not contain new revelations, but he acknowledged there is room for improvement in health care. For example, the lack of Pontiac representation on the CISSSO Board is an issue, but said there will be a call for applicants to fill this post in the spring; as well, the current referral system for social work services needs improvement. He stated that the goal of Barrette’s health care reforms is to reduce administration while providing citizens with better services, noting that 84% of Pontiac residents now have a family doctor, up from 76%, with another example, the addition of 18 new full time staff positions at the long term
facility in Shawville. He also stated that the Québec Health Board now has the authority to relocate doctors where they are needed.
We have not heard you speak publicly about nuclear waste disposal plans at Chalk River; any comment?
Fortin stated that the current infrastructure proposed at Chalk River is far from optimal. The Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environ-ment, and the Fight Against Climate Change issued a strong letter dated May 18th, 2017 stating that disposal measures put in place must clearly demonstrate there is no risk of pollution to the Ottawa River. The letter stated, among other things, that proper
consultation with the citizens of Quebec must be guaranteed.
What are the key issues you are dealing with as Transport Minister?
Mr. Fortin underlined that transportation affects everyone. “No matter what one does in life, getting around is an issue for everyone,” he said, adding he has become familiar with transportation problems that occur in all parts of the province. Locally, the Minister is prepared to use his discretionary budget to help Pontiac municipalities improve access roads to their core areas and he wants to set up
infrastructure to enable wider use of electric cars. He highlighted the usefulness of Quebec 511, a telephone app which shows drivers traffic situations in real time. As Minister he has worked on emergency preparedness plans for winter storms, to avoid situations where drivers can be stranded for hours, as happened on Highway 13 last winter.
The Minister of Transport ended the interview by reaffirming the importance of family and how he will need to balance his increased workload as Minister of Transport with his own family responsibilities.