FIQ (Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec)

We need more than smoke and mirrors to ensure health and safety for seniors

For the past several months, the media have informed us regularly of cases of mistreatment, abuse and neglect of seniors housed in eldercare residences. In the past few days, TVA Nouvelles announced that a coroner’s report has concluded that “the L’Air du temps residence did not have the necessary competencies to take care of an elderly woman whose condition had severely deteriorated”.  In this specific case, a CLSC nurse and to intervene to have the 92-year-old woman transferred to hospital. Ms. Brykowycz unfortunately did not survive the entrepreneur’s deficient care and safety.

Given such a tragedy, I can understand why the Association québécoise des retraités des secteurs public et parapublic vigorously opposes the vague and incomplete measures contained in Bill 16, as reported in La Presse this week. This bill, which is supposed to tighten up the certification process for private residences, instead gives entrepreneurs the possibility of obtaining "cut-rate certification". This is smoke and mirrors, designed to give seniors a false sense of security.

Knowing that the Charest government has never hidden its desire to rely on the private sector to assume responsibilities that normally belong to the State, should we be surprised that this bill instead seems to be designed to make life easier for private businesses?

I would like someone to explain the logic of why it would be acceptable for a private business to make profits without having to meet the same requirements as are imposed on a public institution! Let me remind you of the study by the Institute for Research on Public Policy , which confirmed that the State is in the best position to ensure the quality of services to seniors [IRPP study, in English: “Residential Long-Term Care for Canadian Seniors: Nonprofit, For-Profit or Does It Matter?].

Seniors have a right to care and need to feel secure. This is a collective responsibility. These are the words of the Minister of Social Services, Dominique Vien, who was reacting last January to a devastating investigation [part 1, part 2] conducted by the J.E.  broadcast journalism team.  Taking another look at this interview, in which the Minister asserts with conviction that there can be no possible compromise on the rules to be established, I understand that she has abdicated this position.

Yes, Madame Vien, seniors have the right to the care and safety that their condition requires, regardless of their social class. But they are also entitled to expect that their elected representatives will take a position in their favour first, before seeking to respond to the private sector’s interests.

The consultations on this bill will begin shortly and the FIQ will present a brief on September 15. I thus will be talking to you about this again, especially since the government seems to want to steer all the media attention to the part of the bill dealing with certification of private residences, while throwing a cloak of silence over the measures intended to open up the Quebec health and social services sector to international markets, particularly through the Canada-Europe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.