Quebec's health minister spent time in the James Bay region of Quebec this week, to announce upgrades to a local hospital in Chibougamau and to visit the Cree community of Mistissini.

On Monday, Gaétan Barrette announced $4.8 million to upgrade two operating rooms and equipment at the Centre de santé de Chibougamau, a regional hub and an important point of service for the Cree communities of James Bay.

"This work is directly in line with government actions to provide the best possible infrastructure for health care and social services throughout Quebec," said Barrette, in a news release.  

"The Chibougamau Health Centre will benefit from larger, modern and functional premises, for the benefit of users who must undergo surgery and staff who work there."

Gaétan Barrette

Barrette announced $4.8 million to upgrade two operating rooms and equipment at the Centre de santé de Chibougamau. (Joshua Loon/CBHSSJB)

The project will allow for the redevelopment and upgrading of two operating rooms, the sterile reserve, the recovery room and the endoscopy room. The work will also be done to upgrade various electromechanical systems, including ventilation and lighting systems.

Barrette made the announcement with the Quebec MP for Ungava, Jean Boucher.

"I am very proud that the citizens of Chibougamau and surrounding areas can benefit from these new facilities," said Boucher. "And that teams of health professionals have access to a more functional and user-friendly work environment."

The Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay says in 2016, the Chibougamau health centre saw nearly 7,000 Cree patients.

Work will begin in January and should be completed by September 2018.

Toured Mistissini

Both Boucher and Barrette also travelled to the nearby Cree community of Mistissini to meet with directors of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay (CBHSSJB) and have lunch with local elders at the Mistissini Elders' Home.

They also toured a local health centre, Community Miyupimaatisiiuun Centre, which offers a range of services, including a dialysis unit.

"What is impressive here is to see the involvement of all the community in taking care of their people and the collaboration that I can see with people coming from the south," Barrette was quoted as saying on the CBHSSJB website.

"Basically this is how the health care system should work in this province."