Martin C. Barry
With the Quebec Liberal government still implementing a massive restructuring of the province’s health and social services sector, questions are being raised by some English-speaking Laval social services providers about the government’s seeming decision to appoint a non-Laval resident as an English-speaking member of the new board at CISSS de Laval.
New CISSS structure
The issue arose during a meeting at North Star Academy on March 31 of the Agape – Networking Partners Initiative, which groups together more than a dozen health and social services organizations which have a stake in assisting Laval’s English-speaking community.
Gary Stoopler, who was until two years ago the executive-director of the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital, is now director of intellectual disabilities at the Laval CISSS. As well, Stoopler is senior manager responsible for access to English language services in the CISSs. He gave a presentation describing the new structure of the CISSS and access to its English services.
According to Stoopler, the new 17-member board of the CISSS has only been in place since last October. Among those on the board are some appointed by the provincial health ministry. Stoopler said that prior to the dissolution of a previous regional access committee that was chaired by Agape’s Elizabeth McLeod, the ministry consulted a list of names submitted to it and selected an individual named Jean Laliberté to be the board member representing Laval’s English-language community.
‘Ill at ease’ with choice
“They placed someone who didn’t have a clue about what’s going on in Laval,” said Elizabeth McLeod, who was among the more than a dozen community social services reps present at the NPI meeting, while adding that the former committee protested the decision.
“We said that we would be ill at ease to accept someone who is not from the area, who has not lived these years with the access committee. Yes I am frustrated with this, because we worked 20 years on the access committee and you guys have been with us all these years trying to get things done and all of a sudden there’s no English representation per se. Mr. Laliberté, in all respect, I have nothing against this man, I don’t know him, but he’s not from Laval.”
Regarding the list of names submitted to the ministry, Agape Daycare director Kevin McLeod, who coordinates the NPI, said, “Betty was on there, I was on there, I had submitted my candidacy. I know that [SWLSB chairwoman] Jennifer Maccarone also submitted. We were not selected.”
Commenting on the selection process, Stoopler said “it was a very stringent process. There were interview processes. There were skill sets that you had to acquire. And a multitude of conflict-of-interest clauses, so it was very, very difficult to get in there.”
NPI wants to meet him
Kevin McLeod added, “I think it’s imperative that we need as an NPI to have Mr. Laliberté at our meetings. We need to speak with him sooner than later. We will take charge and try to get an appointment before our next meeting and also include him in the next meeting. I’ll revolve my NPI meeting around his schedule if need be. I think he does need to be here. In his defence we haven’t met him yet. So we have to meet him, we have to introduce ourselves, who we are and what not. That’s something we have to do.”
Michael Campolieto, who attended the NPI meeting as an Agape board member as well as on behalf of the St. Paul’s Charitable Foundation, said in an interview with the Laval News that he agreed something was amiss in the government’s selection.
“First of all, he’s not a resident of Laval,” he said. “Secondly, we submitted some English-speaking people to represent the community and the government appointed this gentleman. I’ve nothing against him. Absolutely not. But why are they saying they want English-speaking people on the board? This is an issue that the person should be from the community, their mother tongue should be English and they should come from Laval so that we have a voice as English-speaking Quebecers.”