Investigate again, yes, but… | Press

Do we need a new public inquiry into the management of the pandemic by the Legault government?

The question is at the heart of the debates taking place in Quebec this week, in the wake of the filing of the explosive report of the Ombudsperson on the impact of the first wave of the pandemic in CHSLDs.

In the wake, also, of what we heard recently in the context of the public inquiry chaired by Coroner Géhane Kamel on the management of COVID-19 in certain residential settings for the elderly.

Both the findings of the Ombudsperson and the contradictions raised during the hearings conducted by Kamel urged the opposition parties to mobilize for a new investigation.

The idea, essentially, would be to create a public commission of inquiry with a broader mandate.

It is the management of the pandemic in its entirety that would be examined, and no longer just the “sanitary and administrative mess” (these are the words of the Ombudsperson) in the CHSLDs.

It would be, it is important to specify it, of a… fifth investigation.

Because the commissioner of health and well-being, Joanne Castonguay, is also examining the gaps related to the governance of the system of care and services for the elderly. Its final report will be made public in the coming weeks.

And let’s not forget the Auditor General, who for his part chose to investigate nearly a dozen subjects related to the pandemic: from personal protective equipment to measures to help businesses, including accessibility. mental health services.

Do we give in, then, in the bidding when we call for another investigation?

The opposition is obviously not neutral. Faced with a Teflon government which threatens to seize a hundred seats in the National Assembly in the next elections, it sees a golden opportunity to score political points, to the detriment of the CAQ.

But this demand is not only partisan. There are, indeed, gray areas to be illuminated.

Our editorial team has already called for such an investigation, which would provide an overview of the failures of the system.

Since then, things have changed, it’s true.

We were particularly concerned about the lack of impact on current investigations – the Ombudsperson’s progress report published last year, for example, had not had the effect of an electric shock. On this point, we are now reassured.

We were also concerned that key witnesses would not be questioned publicly. It is now done, as part of the investigation chaired by Kamel. Some will even appear again, we learned on Wednesday.

But there are still question marks and inconsistencies, as we saw during the hearings, for example during the testimony of Minister Danielle McCann and Deputy Minister Natalie Rosebush.

There are also some issues that were not addressed because it was not explicitly in the mandate of the investigators. The much-desired global vision is therefore still missing.

What about, for example, the choices and functioning of public health since the start of the crisis (and its interactions with politics)? How can we improve it and learn from its weaknesses and shortcomings?

An additional public inquiry thus remains a rich idea.

What happened in the CHSLDs in Quebec during the first wave is as atrocious as it is scandalous.

On the other hand, it is not enough to shine the spotlight only on the most obvious problems, you have to turn on all the lights to ensure that no gray areas are left.

Warning: however, one should not embark on a witch hunt.

Remember, moreover, that the Ombudsperson, who does not put on white gloves in her report, was careful to stress the importance of the “unprecedented nature of a global pandemic”. As for our expectations with regard to the management of the crisis, we must add other mitigating circumstances: the network was already cracking on all sides.

Final warning: let’s not waste time picking up the (costly) work that is being (well) done regarding retirement homes.

For this new investigation, it would also be imperative to find a formula that would avoid partially paralyzing the Department of Health and Social Services, probably for a few years.

The Ombudsperson said on Tuesday: the most crucial thing right now is to implement her recommendations.

But when the results of Mme Kamel and the Health Commissioner will be known, it will be necessary to find a way to complete the portrait.

To carefully explore all the paths that led to the mistakes made, so as to avoid repeating them in the future.

A new, targeted survey appears to us to be the best way to achieve this.

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