André Fortin talks DWKS closure, health care study, internet updates
Article published on 18 November 2021
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Pontiac MNA André Fortin was in studio at CHIP 101.9 yesterday to talk about a variety of issues, from a newly published study on regional health care, to the ongoing COVID outbreak at Dr. Wilbert Keon Elementary School in Chapeau.

His comments on the outbreak were brief, but he noted that the communication from authorities on the situation could have been better. According to public health authorities, the first case at the school was detected on November 6, and as of November 17 there were 14 cases among students, resulting in the shutdown of the elementary part of the school.

He also pointed to the fact that the high school portion of the school, where the majority of the students are vaccinated, had no cases as evidence of the efficacy of vaccines.

Health care study

A study was recently published by the Institut de recherche et d’informations socioéconomiques (IRIS), which highlighted the disparities between the rural portions of the Outaouais (MRC Pontiac and Vallée-de-la-Gatineau) and the urban portions in Gatineau and the surrounding area.

Fortin said that while the previous IRIS study in 2018 showed that the Outaouais was underfunded compared to the rest of the province, regional health authorities aren’t able to spend all the resources that they’re allocated due workers leaving the system, for higher salaries in Ontario or the private sector. He said he would be looking for the CAQ government’s response to this issue in their planned economic update, scheduled for next week.

The study devotes an entire section to the centralization of health care services in the province, which took place under Liberal governments in 2004/5 and 2015, taking away decision-making power from smaller communities, to their detriment. Fortin, who was a member of the governing Liberals during the latest centralization effort championed by then-Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, said that in hindsight, the speed at which these changes were implemented resulted in some of the challenges being faced by rural regions.

Upper Pontiac internet

While talking about meeting the newly elected municipal officials throughout the region, Fortin added that the fibre for high speed internet had recently been installed in the upper Pontiac and residents could expect to gain access to the service in the near future. He noted that work was underway in other parts of the region as well.

The full interview with Fortin is available here.

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