CHSLD: Minister Marguerite Blais will testify before the coroner
The opposition parties who demanded her presence before the coroner will be relieved: the Minister responsible for Seniors and Family Caregivers, Marguerite Blais , will testify during the hearings on January 13. An important actor in the management of the crisis in CHSLDs, Ms. Blais has been on sick leave due to professional exhaustion and persistent leg pain since October 29.
In November, the coroner Géhane Kamel indicated that Marguerite Blais' health problems would exclude her from the hearings. In the context, the opposition parties wanted his testimony to be postponed rather than canceled.
His testimony will be critical to say the least, as contradictions have been raised in the testimonies of other members of the Legault government. The Ministry of Health and the office of the Minister responsible for Seniors were reportedly alerted in mid-March 2020 of the disaster that awaited the CHSLDs, due to the transfer of patients and the lack of personal protective equipment.
Two months earlier, the leaders of the CIUSSS were asked to prepare health establishments for the pandemic, including CHSLDs, according to Minister Danielle McCann. The former Deputy Minister of Health Yvan Gendron and the national director of public health Horacio Arruda were in the same direction.
But according to the Ombudsperson, Marie Rinfret, the Legault government had no plan on the table to remedy the slaughter in the CHSLDs before mid-March 2020.
She accuses the Ministry of Health of having adopted an approach that is too “hospitalocentric”. Planning for the crisis was based on Italy, where hospitals were overflowing. With this in mind, patients have been moved from hospitals to CHSLDs, and no concrete plan has been developed for these living environments. However, seniors' living environments have been the scene of international outbreaks, such as in Washington State in the United States, or in British Columbia in Canada.
The result: 69% of deaths during the first six months of the pandemic were observed in CHSLDs.