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When vet hospital changes hands, workers and patients search for answers

Sainte-Anne's Hospital employees and patients are worried about what happens when the federal government transfers management to Quebec.
Sainte-Anne's Hospital employees and patients are worried about what happens when the federal government transfers management to Quebec. Global News

When Sylvain Chartrand was captured in Bosnia while in the military, when he was suffering from post-traumatic stress, the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Veterans Hospital was a welcome haven. But veterans like Chartrand and about 14,000 others in the Montreal area worry about what’s going to happen when the hospital passes from federal to provincial hands in less than six months.

“We need places where they have multi-disciplinary health care professionals who work together for the benefit of the veteran,” Chartrand said during a demonstration in front of the hospital Saturday afternoon.

The biggest concern for people who use the hospital is whether the province can maintain the level of care that it enjoyed under federal stewardship. The hospital has consistently ranked among Canada’s best, and is the last of 18 veterans hospitals to have gone from federal to provincial management.

Workers and patients want answers now, as to whether the province plans on retaining the hospital’s standards.

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“It’s a lack of communication that I think is a big problem,” said Monique McNab, whose husband was a veteran of the D-Day invasion.

Employees could also feel the squeeze. The province pays up to 34 percent less than the federal government in health care professions, according to the union representing workers at the hospital.

“My main concern is for the residents,” said Jill Leslie, an orderly there who said she’ll likely face a $10-per-hour paycut.  “They’re used to a certain standard of care and I don’t want to see it go downhill.”

The hospital is scheduled to transfer on September 30.

Update: Minister of Veterans Affairs spokesperson Jean-Christophe de le Rue responded to Global Montreal with this statement:

 “Veterans will continue to enjoy the same world-class service they have come to expect from Ste Anne’s Veterans facility.

Over 9000 Veterans are currently served by exceptional provincially run long-term care facilities in Quebec and across Canada.

Not only will this transfer ensure exceptional care for Veterans but the result will open any unused beds to address the long-term care shortage facing the general public in Quebec.”

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