What will happen to the political legacy of Marguerite Blais? The question will surprise some. The reality is, however, that the former Minister of Seniors and Caregivers left behind a considerable legislative legacy.
The question arises all the more since it affects millions of vulnerable Quebecers who have been outrageously neglected by previous governments.
The first pillar is the Act to recognize and support informal caregivers, including a majority of women, followed by a five-year government action plan.
The second is the Act to combat mistreatment of older adults and any other adult in a situation of vulnerability, intellectual and/or physical disability.
This law is vital because in a disordered and dehumanized health network, abuse has become a scourge. An evil hidden under the thick carpet of a huge bureaucracy disconnected from the “field” and employees often condemned to omerta.
This is why for many vulnerable “users”, their families and organizations that defend them, concern has been gnawing at them since the announcement of Ms. Blais' departure.
Who would take over from her? Who would see to the application and operationalization of its legislative legacy? According to a survey by Devoir led by journalist Stéphanie Vallet, so far, the answer is not very reassuring.
“Passed in 2017, she writes, the Act to combat child abuse […] was strengthened last April by the addition of criminal offenses providing for fines of up to $250,000. More than six months later, on the ground, whether families, police or complaints commissioners, no one seems to know precisely what is the path to take for these offenses to be punished. “Criminal offences, she specifies, provide for fines with regard to the author of an act of abuse, but also of any person who fails in his obligation to report it, but no directive has been given since by the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) on their application”.
Renée Binette, whose mother suffered physical and organizational abuse in a CHSLD, sums it all up: “We have a law against abuse, but no one to apply it! »
So, what will we really do with the political legacy of Marguerite Blais, including for caregivers?
To succeed Ms. Blais, Prime Minister François Legault has appointed Sonia Bélanger, former CEO of the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal.
Ms. Bélanger is presented as a talent manager. However, in the field, under his direction at the CIUSSS, some of the most vulnerable “users” often felt neglected. Before and during the pandemic.
Many have experienced and are still experiencing broken or glaring lack of services. Complaints without follow-up. Arbitrary closures of files.
In a certain number of accommodation resources for adults with intellectual disabilities, according to another investigation by Devoir, for this CIUSSS and others, also notes a flagrant lack of quality services and the resulting cases of mistreatment.
The concern therefore persists. That said, for any new minister, the luck goes of course to the runner. The fact remains that the legacy of Marguerite Blais deserves concrete follow-up and managed with humanism.
For millions of vulnerable Quebecers, patience has had its day.
Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my firstname.lastname@example.org 1-800-268-7128