GATINEAU – The Pontiac Voice group held a press conference in Gatineau, February 16, to draw media attention in Gatineau to current health care issues affecting the Pontiac region. The objective of the meeting was to make the public aware of issues the Pontiac is currently facing, including the imposition of paid parking and a loss of services.
After taking advantage of a broadcast by MAtv Outaouais, Pontiac Voice spokesperson Josey Bouchard was joined by MRC Pontiac Warden Raymond Durocher, and Jennifer Kingsbury Larose, a client of the Pontiac Community Hospital.
With mainstream television reporters and other print and radio media on site, the group said the conference was a great success. “It’s important for us to
convey our message outside of our region so the voice of the Pontiac’s residents, who are facing many issues in relation to health services, are heard,” explained Bouchard.
Durocher began by denouncing the lack of communication the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais (CISSSO) has had with Pontiac stakeholders. “We’ve never been warned of the various decisions and have always found out via the media. We have the impression that the CISSSO decision makers are living in an ivory tower far from our reality,” claimed Durocher. He also said the imposition of paid parking at the Pontiac Community Hospital would be a very expensive investment: “With the costs of altering the parking lot, it will take years to be profitable.”
Kingsbury-Larose explained how she will now have to travel to Gatineau more often for treatments and how she was only informed the day before the change.
The other aim of the meeting was to encourage CISSSO management to visit the Pontiac and meet with residents. The CISSSO has stated they would visit the Pontiac, but according to information obtained, they will only address elected officials. “Residents want a dialogue, not with the intention of being rude
or impolite, but just to be informed and to be heard,” stressed Bouchard.
Durocher also stated he wants to see the CISSSO visit the region to explain the changes to the Pontiac’s residents. “It’s a question of trust and respect,” he added.
Some citizens are exploring alternatives to the proposed paid parking, including establishing a free parking lot bordering the current one at the hospital. Pontiac Voice will continue to pressure the CISSSO management to reverse their decision.