CHSLD: without response, the coroner admits to being “flabbergasted”
Géhane Kamel, from the coroner's office
The hearings follow one another, but coroner Géhane Kamel remains uncertain. In front of the testimony of a senior official, she confessed to not “being able to have a story that stands” concerning the management of CHSLDs during the first wave. The investigation, which lasted nearly a year, ends on Monday.
It was the turn of the former head of civil security at the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Martin Simard, to appear before the coroner. Mrs. Kamel awaited her testimony with a firm footing, having even called it “a missing piece of the puzzle”.
“No one from the Ministry [of Health] is able to tell us that before April , the CHSLD was not under the radar of the government. We are not able to have this chronology because it is different according to the actors”, she lamented Monday.
The answers given to her by former members of the ministry remain too vague, she believes. “It seems to me that if you have a front row seat, you should be able to tell if you had a blind spot,” she criticized.
No one can tell me that the CHSLDs have been in the blind spot. Both arms are falling off me.
Géhane Kamel, coroner
Once again, the testimonies of former members of the government crisis unit Danielle McCann and Horacio Arruda have been contradicted. The two assured that the managers of the CIUSSS had been made aware of the potential danger of COVID-19 for health establishments in January 2020 by a letter.
But according to Mr. Simard, it was a letter “of general scope”. Managers were asked to prepare the entire network, not the CHSLDs. “At that time, there were no indicators to look in one direction,” he said. There was no question at that time of a clientele that was particularly vulnerable. According to him, the issue of CHSLDs was identified by the government from March 11, 2020.
Faced with the contradictions of the various testimonies, the coroner expressed her disappointment for the bereaved families, who could remain unanswered at the outcome of the inquest. “Is it normal that until now, we are not able to have a story that stands? she wondered. It bothers me deeply.”
Mr. Simard's testimony was the last. Now, the lawyers for the various parties will make representations. Coroner Géhane Kamel's team will have heard from more than 200 separate witnesses.
Another investigation necessary?
< p>Faced with the lack of answers obtained by the coroner, for Québec solidaire, “the only way to learn lessons from the tragedy that took place in our institutions is to conduct a public inquiry into the entire management of the pandemic”.
“Coroner Géhane Kamel confirmed this morning what has been repeated for months: the testimonies of key government players contradict each other and it is the most total mess, deplores the deputy for Rosemont , Vincent Marissal. How can the families of COVID victims hope to know the truth if even the coroner admits she can't put the pieces of the puzzle together?”