Arnaud de la Salle
Arnaud de la Salle
MRC PONTIAC – Raymond Durocher, Warden of MRC Pontiac, has responded to the public notice placed by the Table de développement social du Pontiac in the Journal’s last issue (page 20), and other media, in which Mr Durocher was asked to respond to the cutbacks and closures proposed by the new Liberal government of Premier Couillard. The warden issued his comments in a letter which appears in French on page 15 of this edition.
In general, Warden Durocher, asserted his determination to fight for the interests of all Pontiac residents, although he clearly indicates the government “austerity measures” are likely to be imposed upon the Pontiac, no matter his objections.
Warden Durocher told the Journal that the restructuring will begin in 2015. He suggests that there may be room to
negotiate some of these closures and changes, since the targeted organizations and offices to be closed have differing legal status. For example, forcing the CLD (Centre local de developpement) into the MRC touches this legal problem. The solution, the Warden hopes, is to create two Economic Development Officer
positions who will continue the work of the old CLD.
As for the elimination of the CREO (Regional council of elected officials in the Outaouais – on which the warden sits), Mr. Durocher says that without the actual National Assembly vote on this matter it is difficult to know the details. Likewise for the plan to eliminate all MRC executive committees; such radical changes need to keep those committee chairpersons to effect the changes in the most efficient way possible – and to keep the MRC functioning. “All these measures will take place by April, 2015, or no later than June,” he said, and the MRC must be able to handle these new responsibilities as they arise.
Regarding the very important fiscal pact for 2016, which impacts the budgets of almost all MRC departments and
projects, the warden didn’t hide his
concern for the difficulties the MRCs and municipalities will face with their new budgets.
The public notice identified many more changes which will affect the lives of Pontiac residents: health-care administration, social services, child care, education and school boards, and other youth and community services. The warden did not address these closures and changes.
Mr. Durocher did add that there are some positive steps which can be taken to ease some of these hardships imposed by Quebec City. Municipal mergers or
amalgamations could yield cost savings and greater efficiencies. For Mansfield and Fort Coulonge, for example, Mr. Durocher (the mayor of Fort Coulonge) estimates that the same work could be done with 50% fewer elected officials. He adds, “If we were to merge the two municipalities we could develop a plan for (local)
economic development and could create huge savings.”
Otherwise, the Warden, while keeping a positive outlook, did not offer additional hope to citizens and to community, sectoral, and municipal organizations which are alarmed at the sudden Couillard cuts. This is the alarm which created the public notice by the Table de développement. Nor did the Warden seize the opportunity to propose counter-measures or joint undertakings by groups of MRCs to combat Couillard’s drastic steps.
(See also the Quebec Solidaire interview on page 2 for a different interpretation of these topics.) (Transl: LL, FR)