Advocates defending the rights of people who are incapacitated are accusing the Quebec government of keeping controversial budget cuts a secret and possibly putting quality of care at risk.
They say an internal report suggests the government is stripping families of services or charging them to balance its books.
“What we want is a real public curator,” said Doris Provencher, director general for the Association des groupes d’intervention en défense des droits en santé mentale du Quebec (AGIDD-SMQ), during a press conference at the National Assembly Friday morning.
In Quebec, the organization that is supposed to stand up for the most vulnerable people is the public curator.
It is responsible for protecting incapacitated individuals by educating the public and supporting families and friends.
The public curator is supposed to ensure that decisions are made in the interests of those who can’t think for themselves to protect their rights and safeguard their autonomy.
Nevertheless, four organizations, including the AGIDD-SMQ and a public sector union, insist they can’t do their jobs properly because of deep government budget cuts.
The people most affected are those who can’t speak out.
“They suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, or they’re in homes or so on. There’s no one who can defend their rights, so it’s easy to cut,” said Ura Greenbaum, director of the Association pour la défense et biens sous curatelle publique.
“They’re not going to walk in the street in front of the National Assembly and demonstrate with placards. They’re stuck in bed, some of them strapped down actually. They’re voiceless.”
The advocates accuse the government of deliberately hiding the facts, which they insist were found only through an access to information request.
“A livre blanc is supposed to be public and mentioned publicly, but it was never mentioned publicly a year ago when it was published,” said Christian Daigle, president of the Syndicat de la fonction publique et parapublique.
What’s in the report?
The report reveals findings of a study on how to cut back on services to more than 42,000 clients, as well as a proposal to start charging for legal and administrative services.
It also acknowledged the public curator’s inability to respond to all the needs of the people in its charge, which is growing each year.
Advocates fear fewer people will be doing inspections on what’s going on in public homes.
“So, what’s the effect? The effect is more abuse, more financial exploitation,” said Greenbaum.