• James Armstrong

CAQ Leader proclaims he’d build Vaudreuil-Soulanges hospital sooner


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

CAQ leader François Legault was in town March 26 with a campaign promise to speed up delivery of the Vaudreuil-Soulanges hospital project.

Leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) François Legault vowed to speed up the construction of Vaudreuil-Soulanges hospital if his party forms the next provincial government in the October elections.

Legault spoke at a press conference following a meeting with the newly-formed Comité tripartite pour la construction de l’hôpital de Vaudreuil-Soulanges held at the Whitlock Golf and Country Club in Hudson last Monday, March 26.

“For a CAQ government, the construction of the Vaudreuil-Soulanges hospital will be a priority. We will start the construction in the next four years,” said Legault. “It’s unacceptable that we have Premier Couillard saying ‘sorry, I made an error, it won’t be for 2021 but for 2027’. It’s a big error to delay that by six years,”

Legault said it’s important to continue with the plans and work that have been accomplished to date.

Reducing bureaucracy

Legault was referring to the announcement made by the Premier Philippe Couillard on Thursday, March 22, concerning the construction of a 404-bed hospital for the region that will begin sometime in 2022 with a projected completion date sometime in 2026. Originally, a smaller-scale project of 202 beds was planned for 2022. Subsequent studies by the Liberal government proved the need for a larger facility in the region.

When asked for details on how he intended to move the construction process move forward faster, Legault replied, “It’s unreasonable that it takes more than four years to have all the plans and submissions for the hospital. To date, the only commitment we have from Mr. Couillard is a building in 2027. I think we can start before that.” He emphasized the need to streamline the process. “We already have the approval of the mayors regarding the building site. We don’t need to have more studies about that,” he said. “One thing I want to do is reduce the bureaucracy in all aspects of government. It’s unacceptable that it takes four years to have plans for a new hospital and another four years to build it.”

Healthcare while waiting

Regarding health care services for the region’s growing population while the hospital is built, Legault said he had two propositions and the committee had also provided two solutions.

“We need to have clinics for minor cases that can be served there and we need to transfer beds from the Valleyfield hospital to Centres d’hébergement et de soins de longue durée (CHSLD), intermediate and private resources. The government needs to buy beds in the private sector,” said Legault. As for the proposed super clinics, Legault said they need to be opened as fast as possible and were a part of the solution. According to Legault, the Comité suggested to him that the region also needed more ambulances and first responder services.

Local Liberal response

MNA for Soulanges Lucie Charlebois defended her party’s hospital project timeline.

“We also have said construction will begin in the next four years, in 2022,” she told The Journal Monday, March 26. She pointed out the process of issuing calls for tender for the hospital must follow specific steps like all other provincial infrastructure projects.

“These steps are mandated by the Director General of Québec and they take time,” said Charlebois. As for improving health care services in the region, Charlebois said two super clinics are planned for the region and would be announced in the near future. She described the clinics as providing health care services on a 24-hour basis for situations not requiring hospitalization.

Role of Comité

The Comité tripartite pour la construction de l’hôpital de Vaudreuil-Soulanges invited Legault to meet with them to confirm his party’s intentions regarding the hospital should the CAQ be elected in the upcoming provincial elections.

“The Comité tripartite began a few weeks ago. It is part of the foundation of the hospital that has been ongoing for 10 years,” said committee member Louise Craig. She described how the group decided to restart the project by contacting area residents. “Our mandate is to make sure the residents of the region get the healthcare they deserve as quickly as possible and make sure that the next government continues with the construction,” said Craig.

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