OUTAOUAIS – After reading a report deposited at the end of January by Sylvain Gagnon, the “special agent” appointed last December to investigate the functioning of the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais (CISSSO), Danielle McCann, Minister of Health and Social Services, removed Jean Hébert as head of CISSSO on February 20.
“We decided to take the necessary steps in order to rectify the situation and support the CISSSO management team,” said the Minister in a press release. Josée Filion, former CISSSO assistant director general, is the organization’s interim CEO, and McCann nominated Martine Couture as her assistant (“accompanist”).
Couture’s mandate will continue until June 28 this year and will focus primarily on
implementing Gagnon’s recommendations: to establish effective and sustained communication links with regional authorities and local partners; promote and support the creation of an advisory committee; better coordinate actions in the territory; ensure community representation on the board of directors; develop a consolidation and development plan for local services; and support CISSSO management to create a plan for a new hospital.
Gagnon was assigned to his task December 14, 2018, less than 24 hours after Chantal Lamarche, warden of the MRC Vallée-de-la-Gatineau, attended a CISSSO Board meeting to highlight multiple issues facing the region since CISSSO’s creation in 2015. She accused Hébert of ignoring rural regions’ concerns and neglecting them for the benefit of urban areas and called for his dismissal, a request supported by the local citizens’ group, Pontiac Voice.
Gagnon was mandated to document the various issues raised, including his own
observations, and submit recommendations. “In the last few weeks, several partners from different horizons have expressed [concern] related to the organization of services, the availability of resources, the response to the needs of the population, and the governance of the CISSSO,” said the Minister’s statement about Gagnon’s appointment. The organization’s projected deficit for 2019 was also a worry.
Josey Bouchard, Pontiac Voice spokesperson, said the organization is very pleased with the news. “We hope that after rounds of cuts and centralization, residents will finally regain the services they deserve right here in the Pontiac. We are glad the government understands that first line services must be administered locally and that we need to re-establish trust in the CISSSO.” The group hopes local management will be restored and services increased at the Pontiac’s hospital and CLSCs.
Patricia Rheaume, CISSSO spokesperson, said the organization “welcomes” the Minister’s decision and offers their full support to the newly appointed accompanist. “Over the next few days, the organization will review M. Gagnon’s report and make every effort to implement the recommendations,” said the CISSSO’s statement.