Martin C. Barry
During a visit to Laval on Aug. 2 to bolster local Coalition Avenir Québec candidates running in the Oct. 1 provincial election, party leader François Legault pledged the CAQ’s long-term support for a Concorde Blvd. East prenatal and maternity services centre, where the management claims the incumbent Liberals turned down their appeal for financial help.
“As you may know, our team from Laval sounded the alarm on the question of financing for prenatal services in Laval,” Legault said during a press conference held at Mieux-Naître Laval. “This is a file that has dragged on too long.
Laval birth rate rising
“I would like to remind you that Laval is still growing very much: we’re now at 4,200 births each year,” added Legault. “And, of course, Mieux-Naître Laval is an important organization which gives services before and after birth. And also as MNA for Lanaudière I can tell you that there are comparable organizations in other regions which are financed by the government of Quebec with financing that is recurring.”
According to the CAQ, nearly a dozen regions in Quebec benefit from organizations similar to Mieux-Naître Laval with financial support from the Quebec government. Legault maintains that MNL’s executive-director, Lysane Grégoire, tried several times to obtain similar funding for the Laval-based group without success.
No prenatal funding
“Despite the efforts made by Mme Grégoire over the years, for example towards Mme Charbonneau who is an MNA here but is also a minister and towards the minister of health Gaétan Barrette, it has not been possible – there was even a refusal on the part of Gaétan Barrette – to finance the prenatal services here in Laval,” said Legault.
“We don’t understand – there is a problem with equity,” he continued. “As I say, there are equivalent organizations in 10 regions which have financing that if it was applied per child in Laval would represent from $500,000 to $650,000 per year. How is it that in Laval it is refused?”
While acknowledging that Charbonneau was known to have expressed support for Mieux-Naître Laval as well as a degree of willingness to obtain funding for the group, Legault said Barrette declined to provide funds after deciding there were already enough prenatal services being offered in the Laval region.
Legault pledges funding
“And yet, there was a study done by the City of Laval with specialists from UQAM which shows that adequate services given in other regions don’t exist or aren’t financed in Laval,” said Legault. “So why is Laval being treated differently? I want to make a commitment today that if a CAQ government is elected next Oct. 1, then we will finance in a recurring manner the organization Mieux-Naître Laval in the same way as it’s done in other regions.”
For her part, Grégoire said, “After four years of mandate, the Liberals haven’t yet been able to solve this problem which is actually not complicated and consists of re-establishing equity in the region with regards to prenatal services. But finally there is hope that we will get the means to fulfill our mission with the families. This would be enormous because an incredible injustice has been done to families, which is completely inexplicable.”
Says Liberal inconsistent
The CAQ’s Sainte-Rose candidate Christopher Skeete agreed the Liberal government’s treatment of the issue shows inconsistency on their part. “There are six MNAs from the Liberal Party here, so I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that somehow they must have fumbled the ball if they weren’t able to move this forward,” he said.
During his stop at Mieux-Naître Laval, Legault was accompanied by the six CAQ candidates running in Laval in the Oct. 1 election: Mauro Barone (Mille-Îles), Alice Abou-Khalil (Chomedey), Adriana Dudas (Fabre), Christine Mitton (Laval-des-Rapides), Michel Reeves (Vimont) and Christopher Skeete (Sainte-Rose).
“It is high time that the people of Laval, as well as the rest of the population of Quebec, were able to speak out on the issues that concern them, while electing the party offering the best program,” said CAQ candidate in Vimont Michel Reeves. “Our program is based on three priority elements: education, the economy and health, which are crucial issues for everyone.”