• James Armstrong

CAQ leader François Legault building political support in Rigaud


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

With a provincial election on the horizon, Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) leader François Legault (left) toured the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region January 16 focusing on continuing flood and healthcare system issues in a discussion with Rigaud Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr.

Leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec François Legault was on the campaign trail in Rigaud Wednesday, January 17, spending about an hour in a meeting with Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr.

Focus of visit

“I am happy to be here with my colleague, Sylvie D’Amours, Deputy for Mirabel who has been involved with the files of those stricken by the flooding,” said Legault during a press conference following the meeting. He said that he and D’Amours had met with some of the flood victims earlier in the day.

“People are really discouraged with the length of time it takes to process aid applications,” said Legault. According to information given him by the mayor, out of 212 applications made nine months ago, only 15 had been processed completely.

“It doesn’t make any sense that so many files have not been processed in the past nine months,” said Legault, acknowledging the negative financial and emotional impact of the situation on individuals and families, some of whom continue to live in hotels because they cannot return to their homes. “It’s not normal that 197 files out 212 have not been processed.”

Wider negative impact

“The mayor presented a budget January 16 that imposes a tax increase of eight per cent, with half of it a direct result of the costs of the flood disaster,” he said adding that financial contributions from the Quebec government do not cover all of the costs.

Legault was asked if the problem with handling the files was bureaucratic or political.

“It’s a bureaucratic problem that can be resolved politically,” he replied. “I don’t understand why Premier Philippe Couillard and (Public Security) Minister Martin Coiteux haven’t put on the pressure sooner.”

He noted many of the files were not available in digital format and were difficult to access in hardcopy print form.

Healthcare system failure

Legault said the lack of family doctors in the region and other health system issues were the second reason for his visit.

“Because people do not have a family physician, they end up going to the emergency department,” said Legault. He noted Rigaud residents have two hospital options: the Suroît Hospital in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield or the hospital in Hawkesbury, Ontario. He said the Suroît was overloaded at a rate of 250 per cent and transport costs by ambulance to Hawkesbury are not covered by Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ).

Local economic development

“There are three industrial parks in Rigaud. It’s normal that financial support comes from the Quebec government to help Rigaud invest in its economic development,” said Legault. “We can do better with the economy.”

Local CAQ candidates

When asked if he had chosen party candidates for the Soulanges and Vaudreuil ridings, Legault replied that he was meeting with potential candidates later in the day but hadn’t made a decision, yet. “There are lots of people interested in becoming candidates for the CAQ,” he said.

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