Read the transcript of Gaétan Barrette's comments on medevac planes

On June 8, 2018 Health Minister Gaétan Barrette attended an event at the Islamic Community Centre in Brossard. A citizen approached him with a question about medevac planes. A transcript of the exchange was given to CBC News.
Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette has apologized, but said his comments were "misinterpreted." (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

On June 8, 2018 Health Minister Gaétan Barrette attended an event at the Islamic Community Centre in Brossard. A citizen approached him with a question about medevac planes. 

A transcript of the exchange was given to CBC News.


CitizenHi, I have a question for you.

Barrette: Yes?

CitizenUm, I'm sure you heard about this whole thing about the….

(Interrupted)

CitizenYes, specifically, why is it taking so long to implement the changes to allow, um, parents to go on the planes with their, uh, children from the northern villages?

Barrette:  You're the guy from, uh…

Citizen:     No, I'm not the guy from anywhere, I read the newspaper.

Barrette:  OK. It doesn't take long, the reason…first of all, okay, it's a very simple thing. The planes that we use are under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

Citizen:     So…

Barrette:  Our national transport and safety agency. We have that in Canada, too. And those planes were not, at the beginning, uh, designed to have the capacity to transport one parent, for one…a number of reasons. First of all, there's no seat. The second reason is there's no door between the cockpit and where the patients are. So if you have someone agitated and so on, there's a risk. And, federal regulations prohibit us to, to, to allow that. Now, that being said, I said one of the ways to…

Citizen:     Mitigate those risks…

Barrette:  Exactly. So, that's what we're doing as we speak. So we had, not a change in regulations, but, we are putting a door, and so on, putting a seat and so on. And then once we've done that, it has to be certified by Ottawa. That has been done. This is resolved. It's resolved. We signed the paper, at the end of this month it's going to be, uh…

Citizen:     Enabled…

Barrette:  Enabled, that's it. So, it's about regulations. And when it's about regulations, uh…

Citizen:     Your hands are tied?

Barrette:  Not (inaudible) hands are tied. They are tied, but if I am to modify some things, it has to go through a new certification process and that takes time. It's as simple as that.

CitizenBut then why has it taken so long to get…

Barrette:  I just, I just told you.

Citizen: No, but I mean, this is not something new, that.

Barrette: Before? Well….

Citizen:  Yeah, it's been going on for 15, 20, 30 years.

Barrette: Ok, ok.

CitizenThis is not something new, right?

Barrette: To, to, to be frank with you.

CitizenYeah?

Barrette: Uh this…

CitizenIt was never brought up as an issue?

Barrette: Exactly. As simple as that.

Citizen: Something under the radar, just..

Barrette: Totally.

CitizenKind of happening…

BarretteTotally.

CitizenNobody said anything…

Barrette: Totally.

Citizen:    So nobody knew anything, so…

Barrette: We built, we built two Challengers, ok? Two Challengers. Top-end. It's all custom-made inside. It's a flying hospital. No one raised the issue when we designed the airplanes. So…

Citizen: (Inaudible)

Barrette: First, and second of all, I'm the, the one and only, the first health minister who had to face that issue, and I solved the situation. So you're asking me, asking me why, that's because, it's not a, this issue wasn't raised. So, and remember one thing. It's for one hour and a half. That's what it is. We have four planes. Two planes that don't go as far as Nunavik. Those two planes can carry eleven, not eleven, eighteen, parents at a time. Eighteen. Because they're DASH-8s. Ok? DASH-8 is a commercial plane. You have half the plane, uh, for patients and half the plane with regular seats.

(Interrupted)

Listen to the next portion as an audio excerpt:

The controversy is all about the subtext: a long and ugly history of stereotyping Indigenous people. 1:56

Barrette: So, and the two other planes were brand new, uh, go to Nunavut...Nunavik...well, well, they've been designed in such a way that, there, the issue wasn't raised. What more can I say? That issue is, it's, it's over with, because we've made the modifications. The certification process is done. Those planes as we speak are operationals, operational. And we need to train personnel. And, train personnel. And I can tell you one thing. If you follow that in the news, I guarantee you that there will be at least one instance in the next six months that, where someone will not be made allowed, uh made, not allowed to get on the plane. Why? Because no one agitated, drugged, uh, under whatever influence would get on the plane (inaudible) at any cost, that will not happen. And that happens all the time. If you're over there, and your kid has to be transported and you're the parent…

(Interrupted)

Barrette: And you're agitated, you're under the influence or whatever, you will not get on the plane. As simple as that.

Citizen: (Inaudible)

Barrette: That's…So you will hear that, believe me. The line will be, the title will be, "Again!" But the reality of the thing is that there are conditions for which, and that's the way it is everywhere in the world. You don't get on the plane if there is one place available and if you're not, don't, you do not have the capacity to, to, let's put it that way, to stand that one hour.

CitizenThank you.

Barrette: You're welcome.