• Stephanie O’Hanley

Health and education investments to benefit Vaudreuil & Soulanges say MNAs


PHOTO BY STEPHANIE O"HANLEY

Vaudreuil MNA Marie-Claude Nichols (left) and Soulanges MNA Luice Charlebois, right, smile at a web camera at Nichols' Vaudreuil riding office at a press conference they held following the close of the fall National Assembly session.

More powers for local municipalities. Investments in health and education. A hospital project on track. The creation of over 140,000 permanent jobs across Quebec – the best job performance the province has seen since 1976.

Those are just some of the Quebec government priorities and investments benefiting Vaudreuil and Soulanges accomplished during the fall session, Soulanges MNA and Minister for Rehabilitation, Youth Protection and Public Health Lucie Charlebois and Vaudreuil MNA Marie-Claude Nichols said during a December 20 joint press conference.

“I’m passionate about this because this is really my comfort zone,” Nichols, who was formerly the mayor of Notre-Dame-de-l'Île-Perrot, said of Bill 22, recently introduced by Martin Coiteux, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy. If passed, under the proposed law municipalities across Quebec would have more governing autonomy and powers, she said. As soon as next year, municipalities would have access to a shared $30-million support fund that would eventually increase to $100 million.

“We want to create local governments with our cities,” Nichols said. “Vaudreuil-Soulanges has 23 municipalities....What’s really interesting is once a year the Premier will preside over a round table conference with the different municipalities.”

“That was an election promise,” added Charlebois. “Quebecers are recognizing that we’re doing exactly what we said we would do - restore public finances and have a sound management of public finances.”

Thanks to an “excellent” credit rating and lower interest rate as 2016 ends, “we can invest in our priorities – health, education and the economy,” she said.

In October Charlebois, Quebec’s Public Health Minister, launched a $76.1 million preventive health policy aimed at improving Quebecers’ health outside the hospital. Helping kids stay in school and succeed is a priority. “In terms of healthy aging, the preventive policy starts from a young age to the end of our lives, we have to look after all these segments (of the population),” she said.

For taxpayers “the fiscal burden is reduced starting January 1, 2017” since the amount for the Health contribution on line 448 has been lowered, said Charlebois.

Healthcare investments include $20 million to reduce surgical wait-times, $21 million to cut the wait for diagnostic services and $100 million to relieve the wait-time in hospital emergency rooms.

As of December 29, for the first time ever, pregnant women in Vaudreuil-Soulanges will have access to free ultrasounds at private clinics, Nichols pointed out.

The investments will benefit the overloaded Lakeshore, Châteauguay and Valleyfield hospitals, Charlebois said. “You can’t blame people for heading to the emergency room if there aren’t any services anywhere else,” Charlebois said, stressing the government is in the process of investing in both infrastructure and staff.

Nichols and Charlebois said as MNAs serving Vaudreuil and Soulanges they’re working together on the Vaudreuil-Soulanges Hospital and improving services for citizens. Charlebois stressed that when she discusses the hospital with Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette she discusses it as the MNA for Soulanges, not as the Public Health Minister.

Charlebois said the hospital is part of Quebec’s Infrastructure plan and, by law, must follow certain procedural steps. She said she and Nichols are making sure everything is on track for a hospital opening by 2021.

Having so many people from the Vaudreuil-Soulanges community following the hospital file either directly or indirectly is “super motivating,” Nichols said. “I want to thank them.”

“While other counties are closing schools, here we’re building them,” Charlebois said, noting education investments include $10-million for École des Étriers in St. Lazare.

In terms of possible changes to electoral division boundaries for Vaudreuil and Soulanges that would move some Vaudreuil-Dorion residents and Hudson residents currently in the Vaudreuil riding into the Soulanges riding, Nichols said she made a presentation before the Commission de la représentation électorale but no decision has been made yet.

As for paving the notoriously bumpy Route 342 on Harwood, Nichols said the city of Vaudreuil-Dorion has applied for financing and Nichols said the dossier is being “pushed” at the Ministry of Transportation.

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