• James Armstrong

CAQ candidate offers possibility of health care and education reforms to Soulanges voters


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

CAQ candidate Marilyne Picard promised Soulanges voters an improved educational and health care system.

Marilyne Picard, candidate for the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) in the Soulanges riding, says the most important message she has for voters is: “We are not a separatist party. We want to remain part of Canada.” With less than a week before the vote on Monday, October 1, Picard wanted to make that message clear. “We want a strong Quebec and a strong Canada,” she stressed.

Education system

Reforming and decentralizing the education system in Quebec with the aim of reducing school taxes by 41 per cent is a major plank in the CAQ campaign platform. “The first step is to remove the election of school commissioners,” Picard said, describing them as being too expensive and not receiving enough support from voters. “In place of the school commissions, we will create service centres,” she said. The service centres would be responsible for the administration of local schools and would be overseen by a council comprised of teachers, school directors, and parents.

“We want to give more money directly to the schools for the benefit of the students,” she said noting much money is currently lost on administration costs. From Picard’s point of view, redundancy exists not only in the Ministry of Education but in other aspects of the education system. “It will be a big housecleaning,” she said adding that if the CAQ wins the election, as many as 5,000 positions across the system could be cut, mostly from retirements and reassignment of people to other positions.

Vaudreuil-Soulanges hospital project

“I am convinced, as is our leader François Legault, that the process of building the hospital can move faster,” said Picard. “If everyone at the table is made aware the project has to happen now, it will move more quickly,” said Picard. In other areas of the health care system for the region, she sees a need for improved ambulance services and first responders in all the municipalities. “The minimum time for the arrival of an ambulance in an emergency situation is 25 minutes,” she said, “and that can be crucial in many situations.” As the mother of a severely handicapped child, Picard is well aware of the situation having had to call for ambulance service many times.

More financial support for caregivers

As a co-founder and former spokesperson for the Parents jusqu’au bout movement, Picard has worked tirelessly to ensure equitable financial support for families caring for children with severe disabilities. She said that before 2016, natural family caregivers received $4000 per year as opposed to foster families who received $25,000 per year. Due to pressure from Parents jusqu’au bout and their appearance in March, 2016 on popular television talk show Tout le monde en parle that got the attention of Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, changes to the system began. Picard credits her continuing quest to improve the lives of children with severe disabilities as her motivation for entering the political arena.

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