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Suburban Exclusive: Quebec Health Ministry report raises spectre of health-care “prioritization”

The Suburban has obtained a copy of a protocol issued in the name of the assistant deputy Minister of Health of Quebec Dr. Lucie Opatrny on Nov. 2 concerning the “prioritization” of access to intensive care for adults in the context of an “extreme pandemic.” Both it’s assumptions and recommendations are dramatic and troubling as they raise the spectre of selection and rationing of health care.

The Protocol is entitled “Priorisation pour l’accès aux soins intensifs (adultes) en contexte extrême de pandémie.” The Suburban has sent e-mailed a series of written questions on what you will read below to appropriate government officials. No answer has been received by press time.

Among the more disturbing aspects of this report are the following : 1. some 41 medical and academic personnel were involved in its authorship yet as far as we have been able to find none were from Montreal; 2. it implies that rationing of ICU admittance, medicine and care is coming based on assumptions of “150-200%” surges in hospitalizations — a number that is four times greater than any previous surge — leading to a near total collapse of hospital capacities. Yet as of this writing Quebec has over 7300 empty hospital beds and hospitalizations and deaths continue at low levels with some 95% of Covid tests coming back negative every week; 3. It calls for three-person committees in hospitals to approve the access to care and particularly ICU admittance; 4. perhaps most incomprehensible is that though it cautions against any discrimination based on any of the aspects protected by the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms such as colour, creed, religion, gender and even physical handicaps, it leaves open the possibility — written in parentheses — that as far as age is concerned this may not be protected “if laws permit it.” No such exemptive laws permitting ageism currently exist. ; 5. in lightly coded language it even leaves open the door to terminating ICU care without anyone’s consent and the discharge of patients from hospitals prior to the completion of their course of treatment or term of recovery. Implied throughout, is that these three-person committees would be the determinators.

The questions we sent to the government are the following: 1. under what legal rubrique was this protocol permitted to be put forward? 2. why is there no appeal mechanism to any ombudsperson or anyone in the event of the withdrawal or rationing of care? 3. why has this not been publicized to the population as is required in the event of an increase or decrease in medical care as required by Quebec’s own health legislation? 4. is this publicity not also part of the responsibilities of a “moral contract?” 5. finally, were there individuals involved in this who were also involved in formulating the disgraceful “Do Not Resuscitate” order to Urgences Santé in April that The Suburban front-paged two weeks ago?

This is a developing story and we will be publishing updates online amd in had copy in the days ahead.


Laval_news
Opposition pans record high budget
  • Updated

Laval’s $932 million budget and $1.36 billion capital works programme was roundly panned by the opposition this week.

“Much too little, much too late,” says Official Opposition leader Michel Trottier. Despite investments in infrastructure, greenspace and economic recovery, Trottier says “the budget presented by the Demers administration is not suited to the reality and needs of 2021. In the midst of a global pandemic, Mayor Demers is not seizing the opportunity to offer the Laval population what it really needs, proximity services and neighbourhood infrastructures… Only one eco-center after eight years in office is embarrassing and the lack of neighbourhood pools and arenas is pathetic.”

Fabreville councillor Claude Larochelle said the announced tax freeze “after six years of consecutive tax increases, serves to make people forget all of the Demers administration’s fiascos. But in the end, the citizens of Laval remain overtaxed. Our AA credit rating must be attributed to the people of Laval who have been overtaxed year after year.”

Action Laval leader Sonia Baudelot called it an electoral budget. “Marc Demers gives you gifts today to make you forget his disastrous management of recent years,” she said in a release. Baudelot says “this is a budget drafted for the November 2021 elections,” listing a number of unpopular measures like striped sidewalks, the Commodore Marina settlement, and highly critical auditor-general reports.

“The city of Laval can manage without increasing the residential property tax because of the tax revenues generated by the new condo towers... as was the case before the Demers era!” says independent Vimont Councillor Michel Poissant. “The mayor alleges that our financial reserves are required to make up for our lack of infrastructure. However, large surpluses raised in the Auditor General’s report in 2015, are still half a billion dollars despite an increase in infrastructure investment. Find the error.”

Poissant also said that the PTI at $1.36 billion “is too much” and added that the administration hired 500 managers and professionals over 7 years, hiking annual salary costs by $60 million.

Trottier took particular issue with the plan to spend $23M ($6.4 million over the next three years) to improve the city’s image. “This expenditure does not in any way help our population and businesses, which have been hard hit by the pandemic.

The city justifies the expense to distinguish itself as Quebec’s third largest city with the Urban by Nature theme. “To optimize the citizen and employee experience” it is essential to review all signage so citizens and visitors can easily find their way and encourage attraction to the territory, its neighbourhoods and its downtown. It’s also deemed necessary to “optimize positive impact” of the Laval brand and “continue to change perceptions.” Large volumes of signage have also been damaged over time and need replacing, and signage in municipal buildings has been added on an ad hoc basis with little uniformity.

Trottier wasn’t buying it. “The mayor is clearly out of touch with the needs of the Laval population and seems more concerned about the Demers brand image.”

A budget presentation to council will happen at a special council on December 15, with introduction of financial regulations followed by the adoption of the budget, with final adoption of measures on December 17.


Laval_news
2021 Budget: Tax freeze, big spending on environment, services and economic recovery
  • Updated

Laval’s 2021 budget is steadily creeping towards the $1 billion mark, and the three-year capital works program (PTI) has surpassed it.

Laval Mayor Marc Demers presented the $932 million budget this week, representing $846.9 million in spending, a 6.9% increase over 2020, with $30 million in new services.

The 2021-2023 PTI spending totals $1.368 billion –$382 million in 2021, $499 million in 2022 and $487 million in 2023.

“We prepared this eighth budget with three priorities: improving services to citizens, providing the best economic recovery in Quebec and protecting the environment” said Demers in a statement. “It is thanks to our excellent financial condition, confirmed by S&P Global and the Desjardins Group, that we will be able to do more, while offering a freeze on the average tax bill to all citizens.”

Policing takes the largest slice of the budget pie ($135.1 million), and the PTI includes $52 million for the construction of a west-end gendarmerie. Laval’s storied reserves stand at $328.2 million and will rise $116 million, with $205 million slated to be spent over the next three years, half on water service.

Some budget elements:

As announced, the city is granting a property tax freeze for all sectors in 2021, with the average single-family home paying $3109 in taxes, a $5 increase over last year.

The city will spend $87 million on public transit, a $2.2 million increase. The Economic Development Department envelope is expanding by nearly 26% to work on a new international attraction plan, with another $20 million set aside for “budgetary additions as and when needs are expressed.”

Investing $6.7 million, Laval will bolster its participation in the Rénovation Québec program to revitalize residential properties via AccèsLogis social housing projects and renewing financial assistance to AccèsLogis.

Preferential bus measures on Le Corbusier and Avenue des Bois cost $26.4 million, and $2.6 million will be spent to optimize snow removal by updating routes and pilot projects for seasonal parking. Existing parks get $39.2 million for repairs and chalet construction, including Pie-X, Le Boutillier, Couvrette and du Tremblay, while $24.3 million goes to new parks and shorelines.

The new east-end service center for citizens of Saint-François and Duvernay-Est gets $29.3 million; two new fire stations for coverage of Laval-Ouest, Fabreville, Sainte-Dorothée and Pont-Viau require $20.9 million, and $9.6 million over 3 years will go to the new downtown cultural infrastructure. City hall’s three-year renovation bill is $17.6 million three years.

There is $28.9 million for land acquisitions, and $21.1 million for tree planting, and Laval’s bio-methanization plant and two additional eco-centers will ultimately top $200 million. Some $167 million is also earmarked for maintenance of drinking water and purification plants, pumping stations, sewer and aqueduct network and overflow control. The PTI also includes revitalization projects, including the Cartier and Concorde sectors ($39.2 million) and the aquatic complex ($64.1 million).

An annual $600,000 boost means Laval’s 9 libraries will open 7 days a week instead of six.

A budget presentation to council will happen at a special council on December 15, with introduction of financial regulations followed by the adoption of the budget, with final adoption of measures on December 17.

To view the budget and PTI visit: https://www.laval.ca/Pages/Fr/A-propos/budget-de-lannee-en-cours.aspx


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