Montreal

Follow through on L'Isle-Vert coroner's recommendations, seniors group urges

A seniors advocacy group says it would be "catastrophic" if the Quebec government does not adopt a coroner's recommendation made following a deadly fire at a seniors' residence in L'Isle-Verte, Que., two years ago.

Report suggests province might back out of requiring additional staff at private seniors’ homes

A January 2014 fire at Résidence du Havre seniors' residence in L'Isle-Verte, Que., left 32 dead. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

A seniors advocacy group says it would be "catastrophic" if the Quebec government does not adopt a coroner's recommendation made following a deadly fire at a seniors' residence in L'Isle-Verte, Que., two years ago.

The AQDR, an association that defends the rights of retirees, was responding to a report in La Presse that said the province is backtracking on its decision to require a minimum number of staff in private seniors' residences.

The newspaper also said, citing government documents, that the province was considering allowing volunteers or residents to take on the role of supervisors during the day and night.

"It would be a burden on residents and volunteers," said Serge Séguin, the interim director general of the association.

"These are people who aren't trained to do this. It takes trained, professional personnel to do this. We can't put this responsibility of surveillance on residents and volunteers."

A lack of staffing was one of six contributing factors laid out in a coroner's report following the L'Isle-Verte fire, which killed 32 people.

In his February 2015 report, Coroner Cyrille Delâge said there weren't enough personnel on duty the night of the fire trained in helping residents in case of an emergency.

Delâge outlined the need for properly trained staff, as well as a sufficient number of staff members on duty, particularly overnight.

The Résidence du Havre housed 52 elderly people, including many who couldn't move around without the use of a walker or wheelchair.

Health Minister Gaétan Barrette said Tuesday the province still hasn't made a final decision on the matter.

"It's a question of balance," he told Radio-Canada.

"Do we want to have very strict standards wall to wall, at the risk of certifications disappearing … Or do we want to compromise?"

Barrette said if requirements are too stringent, private homes will lose their licence and will be unable to provide care for seniors.

"We must remember that we are talking about independent residences. These are places that are not in the government network," he said.

With files from Matt D'Amours

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