Legault below fireplace as opposition seizes on explosive report into COVID in care properties | Globalnews.ca

Legault under fire as opposition seizes on explosive report into COVID in care homes  | Globalnews.ca

2021-11-25 20:34:07

After congratulating itself for months for its administration of the COVID-19 pandemic, Quebec’s governing Coalition Avenir Québec celebration is on the defensive following an explosive report of its dealing with of long-term care throughout spring 2020.

The weak residents of the province’s underfunded long-term care properties have been largely an afterthought within the authorities’s pandemic preparedness plans, Quebec Ombudswoman Marie Rinfret concluded in her report launched Tuesday.

She stated 4,000 residents died between February and June 2020 — almost 70 per cent of the COVID-19 deaths in Quebec in the course of the first wave.

Rinfret’s report and an ongoing coroner’s inquiry into long-term care deaths have been on the coronary heart of testy exchanges this week on the legislature. They’ve additionally renewed the opposition’s calls for for a public inquiry into the federal government’s pandemic response.

Learn extra:
Quebec ombudswoman requires evaluation of long-term care mannequin after COVID-19 deaths

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Premier François Legault and his authorities are driving excessive within the polls on this election 12 months, however opposition events, which have struggled to achieve traction, might have discovered one thing to grab on, stated Daniel Béland, a McGill College political science professor.

“Proper now, it’s robust moments for the Coalition Avenir Québec,” stated Béland, director of the McGill Institute for the Examine of Canada. “They need to keep away from a much bigger inquiry into this.”

Legault has to this point refused to launch a public inquiry into his authorities’s pandemic response, and he has stated that the investigations launched by different impartial officers suffice to disclose what occurred in spring 2020.

Learn extra:
Quebec’s prime physician questioned over lack of preparation at inquest into COVID long-term care deaths

Béland, nonetheless, stated he isn’t certain whether or not the disastrous first wave in long-term care properties is a sufficiently big scandal to carry down Legault’s authorities when Quebecers head to the polls subsequent fall.

“I don’t know whether or not that is sufficient for the opposition to make main inroads as a result of the recognition of Francois Legault has been fairly sustainable regardless of all the issues in the course of the first wave of the pandemic,” he famous.

“These issues usually are not one thing we simply found; we’ve got been speaking about this for a very long time.”

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Quebec has reported greater than 11,566 deaths for the reason that starting of the pandemic, however the province has executed higher for the reason that first wave. It’s not clear whether or not COVID-19 will probably be entrance of thoughts for voters, Beland stated. Language points, immigration and labour shortages might substitute the pandemic as election matters, he added.

“I don’t assume it’s sufficient to essentially change the trajectory to this point, however actually (proper now) it’s a supply of headache for the premier.”

However the storm clouds round Legault’s authorities gained’t move quickly. Two different stories are anticipated on the primary wave — one from the province’s well being and welfare commissioner and one other from coroner Gehane Kame.

Learn extra:
Quebec’s prime physician defends COVID-19 response at inquest into long run care deaths

On Wednesday, Minister of Increased Schooling Danielle McCann, who was shuffled out as well being minister in June 2020, defended her dealing with of the pandemic. She has insisted that your entire well being community was notified to organize in January 2020 for the looming well being disaster, however the ombudswoman’s report stated the care properties have been forgotten.

McCann launched a three-page letter dated Jan. 28, 2020, calling on well being authorities to organize. The doc, nonetheless, makes no particular point out of long-term care properties. Rinfret’s report stated whereas officers had expressed considerations, no motion was taken in long-term care till mid-March and measures solely got here in mid-April.

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“I’m extraordinarily delicate to what occurred,” McCann instructed reporters Wednesday. “Because the minister of well being of the time, I really feel a lot for the households, and I’ll stay with that for the remainder of my life.”

In latest months, Legault and his ministers have been publicly congratulating themselves for Quebecers’ excessive vaccination charges and the comparatively low COVID-19 transmission within the province. On Tuesday, Legault boasted about how significantly better Quebec was doing in contrast with the USA and Europe. “Properly, you’ve seen it. In some international locations in Europe it’s very worrying,” he stated.

“Once we look nearer to house, in the USA, if I take simply the hospitalizations per million residents, they’ve six instances extra hospitalizations than we do in Quebec.”

However that didn’t cease the opposition from hammering the federal government this week. Opposition Chief Dominique Anglade instructed reporters Wednesday the federal government lied about its COVID-19 preparedness plans.

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“The federal government lied to Quebecers,” she stated. “It lied when it stated there have been directives that had been despatched when there weren’t.”

In response to extra heated questions from the opposition throughout query interval, Legault stated his authorities did one of the best it might with the data it had. Many different elements of the world, he stated, didn’t foresee the issues that will happen in long-term care.

“We had no indication earlier than March (2020) that there could be such a tragedy within the CHSLDs,” Legault stated, utilizing the Quebec time period for long-term care properties. He insisted the federal government’s focus on the time was on defending hospitals and procuring ventilators.

“That is the data we had,” he stated. “I did my finest with the data I had.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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