Quebec election candidates pledge to fix Gatineau hospital woes

Candidates in the upcoming Quebec election are promising to fix staff and resource shortages at Gatineau's hospitals that have prevented patients from receiving urgent care.

Local hospitals struggling to cope with staff shortages, long wait times

Rachel Bourdon is the candidate for Coalition Avenir Québec in the riding of Hull. She said her party will be unveiling a plan to tackle the problems plaguing health care in the Outaouais. (Radio-Canada)

Candidates in the upcoming Quebec election are promising to fix staff and resource shortages at Gatineau's hospitals that have prevented patients from receiving urgent care. 

The city's hospitals have been coping with limited staff and resources this summer, which has caused overcrowding, lengthy wait times, and difficult working conditions.

Marysa Nadeau, the Parti Québécois candidate for the riding of Hull, says solutions do exist — but political will is required to pursue them.

"When you want to fix a problem, you have to recognize the problem first," she told Radio-Canada in a French language interview. 

"In the Parti Québécois, we recognize that health in the Outaouais is underfunded, and we recognize that we have to put money back into the system."

'It does not work'

The Coalition Avenir Québec is planning to unveil a health platform specifically for the Outaouais region, said the party's candidate for Hull, Rachel Bourdon.

"Health Minister Gaétan Barrette's reform [helped] crush a system that was already suffering," Bourdon said. "We see it every week in the news. It does not work."

Benoit Renaud, who's running in Hull for Québec Solidaire, is calling for greater equity between the regions of Quebec in regards to the healthcare support they receive.

"There is another $150 million that we are missing in terms of health funding when we compare ourselves to other regions," he said.

Benoit Renaud is Québec Solidaire's candidate in the riding of Hull. He wants greater equity between the province's regions when it comes to health care funding. (Radio-Canada)

Meetings to find solutions

The Outaouais receives less funding compared to other regions in the province — including the Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean area, which has 115,000 fewer residents.

Last week, after several surgeries were cancelled and delayed at the Hull Hospital, officials there pledged to communicate better with hospital patients.

At one point, more than 20 orthopedic surgery patients were on the hospital's wait list, without an accurate idea of when they'd be seen.

With less than two months left until the provincial election, there's an expectation that Gatineau's healthcare issues will be a focus of debates along the campaign trail.

Maryse Gaudreault, the Liberal MNA for Hull, said she would comment on the health situation in Gatineau late Tuesday afternoon, after meeting with the Outaouais Integrated Health and Social Services Centre (CISSS), as well as surgeons and doctors. 

Gaudreault said that after a meeting last week, the government has been in close collaboration with CISSS Outaouais.

"We know the realities, we know the needs and we will have the opportunity to make proposals to you during the next election campaign," she said. 

Quebec residents go to the polls on Oct. 1.

With files from Antoine Trépanier