MRC meeting – Demand for increased nurses wages, COVID recovery grants, SHQ woes


Allyson Beauregard

MRC PONTIAC – The MRC Pontiac’s Council of Mayors gathered at the Campbell’s Bay RA Hall, September 16, for its second public meeting since the COVID pandemic began.
Council requested that the provincial government immediately implement a pilot project in the Pontiac to equalize nurses’ wages to those in Ontario. “We can work on incentive packages, but the thing that speaks the loudest is equalizing salaries,” said Warden Jane Toller, noting that the five nurses currently finishing their training at the Pontiac Community Hospital have already accepted jobs in Ontario.
Public participation
Linda Belland from Campbell’s Bay asked if residents will be reimbursed for fees they paid while they were evacuated for three months during the 2019 flood (e.g. land taxes, garbage collection, etc.). Bernard Roy, MRC director general, said they will not be reimbursed, but re-evaluations will reflect reduced property values and will be retroactive to May 2019.
Portage-du-Fort Artistes de la Rivière group representative, Francis Shea noted that 20 historical plaques are now installed throughout the village; 13 last year and seven this year. “It’s amazing the traffic we’ve seen coming through to read them. It makes a great walking tour,” she said, noting more could be added in the future.
Road and trail work
A maximum of $10,000 from the TNO budget will be used to partner with Bryson Lake Lodge to repair a bridge and two culverts in the area surrounding the establishment. The Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks will cover 90% of the $183,000 project. The MRC and outfitter will split the 10% partner share.
The MRC received the $125,000 contribution from Route Verte for the PPJ. With $180,000 left of the $250,000 budget for maintenance, four projects will be completed by the end of the year: applying stone dust to 0.6 km from Callaghan Road to the Bernard Creek Bridge in Litchfield, 8.4 km around Airport Road in L’Isle-aux-Allumettes, and 4.4 km from Shawville to the Eighth Concession in Clarendon; and paving over a culvert in Fort-Coulonge that was replaced in 2019.
An updated report priced at $11,400 will allow a second access to the MRC headquarters from Highway 148. According to Toller, the MRC has budgeted about $100,000 to pave the parking lot, possibly starting in the spring, and the funds for the report will be taken from this budget.
The City of Gatineau and MRC-des-Collines won’t use their portion of the PADF 2020-2021 funding so it has been returned to the MRC Pontiac, which
manages the regional fund. The $312,000 will be divided: $142 K to Vallée-de-la-Gatineau, $60K for Papineau, and $110K for the MRC Pontiac. The MRC Pontiac will use the funds for improving multiuse forestry roads on public territory.
Other matters
The MRC is launching a call for projects for $70,000 in FRR funding it allocated for a COVID recovery program. Until October 23, small businesses can apply for a non-refundable grant up to $5,000 to implement new measures and adapt to new economic realities.
Council supported Mansfield’s request to the government asking for hydro rates to be reduced for community centres, arenas, etc.
A request to federal Ministry of the Environment will ask to modify regulations so residential waste can be imported into Québec, from Ontario, for treatment. Waste from Ontario would be needed to make the proposed energy-from-waste project feasible, said Toller. Currently, only biomedical waste and recyclables can cross the border.
Mayor Maurice Beauregard (Campbell’s Bay) presented a motion to
coordinate a meeting among his director general, Bernard Roy, the MRC’s Human Resources Committee and himself to discuss the ongoing problems Basil Belland is having with the Société d’habitation du Québec (SHQ).
As a stroke survivor and wheelchair user, Belland received an SHQ grant to install a new ramp at his home and make his bathroom wheelchair accessible. A neighbour complained the ramp was too close to their property, and the municipal building inspector determined the SHQ didn’t get a building permit. Work was stopped, resulting in conflicts with the contractor who still hasn’t been paid, leaving Belland without an accessible bathroom. He had to relocate to the local manor.
The MRC has a partnership with the SHQ and one of its agents work out of the MRC office. According to the Belland family, the agent refuses to speak with them anymore and Beauregard said the SHQ has said it will only speak with his director general.
The next Council meeting will be held October 21.