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Quebec opposition unsatisfied with minister’s answers about seniors homes cost over-runs

Click to play video: 'Quebec’s minister responsible for seniors in the hot seat at the National Assembly' Quebec’s minister responsible for seniors in the hot seat at the National Assembly
Quebec's minister responsible for seniors in the hot seat at the National Assembly – Aug 21, 2020

While the Quebec government has taken steps to better care for seniors in the province, the cost of those steps has been called into question.

The minister responsible for seniors assures Quebecers the tragedy that occurred in the province’s long-term care homes will not happen again if there is a second wave of the novel coronavirus.

“Yes, we are ready. We have a plan,” says Marguerite Blais.

READ MORE: Seniors minister grilled in virtual National Assembly Hearing

However, during a two-hour National Assembly debate Friday morning, there were some tense moments between the minister and opposition MNAs.

“I would like to say the previous government only created 258 places in CHSLDs,” she said before adding the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) government created four times that.

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But Liberal MNA Monique Sauvé wanted to know why the government’s budget for the new modern seniors’ homes promised during the election are going through the roof.

“The cost of these homes is exploding by 50 per cent,” she said.

READ MORE: Quebec coroner orders public inquiry into coronavirus deaths at long-term care homes

Blais replied the government was spending more in long-term care homes in ventilation, cleanliness and upgrades, but Sauvé says there is another reason for cost over-runs, citing documents she received from access to information requests. She said in some cases, the government paid two or three times more than the municipal assessment for land where the homes will be built.

“This is unbelievable and if it would be an exception, that’s something, but I had many, many examples,” Sauvé told reporters after the debate.

READ MORE: Health officials take over private seniors’ home in Quebec City after COVID-19 spike

She said Blais was unable to answer why the government appears to have overpaid and that makes her question the minister’s competence.

“She didn’t know and the deputy minister didn’t know and I’m still waiting for the answers,” she said.

Click to play video: 'The pandemic’s lessons for Quebec’s senior-care network' The pandemic’s lessons for Quebec’s senior-care network
The pandemic’s lessons for Quebec’s senior-care network – May 27, 2020

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