CAQ members applaud vote against public inquiry into seniors care during first wave of pandemic

Click to play video: 'Quebec government shoots down Herron seniors home inquiry'
Quebec government shoots down Herron seniors home inquiry
Quebec opposition parties have been calling for a public inquiry into the management of one of the province's senior homes during the first wave of the pandemic. They say with insufficient investigations and contradictory statements, there's a piece of the puzzle missing. On Thursday, CAQ members shot down the chance of that happening. Olivia O'Malley reports. – Apr 15, 2022

One by one all 60 CAQ members in the National Assembly’s Salon Bleu Thursday, voted against a public inquiry into the deaths of thousands of Quebec seniors during the first wave of the COVID pandemic. That included 47 who died at the Herron long term care facility.

The minister responsible for seniors, Marguerite Blais, received a standing ovation from her fellow party members when she voted the motion down.

Opposition officials say the government reaction is “inappropriate.”

“It was revolting. It wasn’t just a little applause. It was, you know, crying out ‘bravo’, clapping extremely hard and, you know, quite long,” said Liberal MNA Gregory Kelley.

Parti Québécois (PQ) MNA Joël Arseneau told Global News “a lot more respect was expected from the government.”

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The PQ presented the motion. All 38 opposition members voted in favour.

During the debate of the motion Thursday, Blais argued there are already three investigations into the matter, saying in French “we’ll let the coroner finish her report.”

The CAQ denied the interview request made by Global News on Friday.

Opposition members say the truth will not be discovered without a public inquiry.

“The government has been probably hiding a lot of what actually took place,” said Kelley.

An email obtained by Radio Canada shows that Blais and former health minister Danielle McCann were aware of the crisis at the Herron. That contradicts what they told the coroner: they learned about the situation in the newspaper.

“We’re not getting any explanation of what happened and why nothing was done before there was a (story) in the Gazette,” said Arseneau.

Patrick Martin-Menard represented six families at the coroners inquest into seven long-term care homes. He told Global News a public inquiry is crucial.

“The coroner’s inquest is only the tip of the iceberg of what happened. But the scope is limited by the mandate of that public inquest,” he said.

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He added it’s essential to understand what went wrong — a lesson for the future — and especially important for the families he represents who are frustrated by a lack of answers. Arseneau promised his party will keep pushing for an inquiry.

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