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  • Hunter Cresswell

Hills prefects push for more localized health care

Rural health services have been on the decline since Quebec centralized health care administration seven years ago, and now CISSSO may further reduce rural services in favour of a mega hospital in Hull.

But the push is on to preserve and even improve health care in the Gatineau Hills and other, more rural reaches of the Outaouais. MRC Vallée-de-la-Gatineau Prefect Chantal Lamarche was the spark in all of this.

In late-2018 she started calling for a change to health care services and administration in the Outaouais. She critiqued the lack of services in rural areas and demanded the dismissal of CISSSO CEO Jean Hébert. Quebec health minister Danielle McCann fired Hébert in February 2019. In October, Quebec Premier François Legault pledged to decentralize healthcare, an announcement applauded by Lamarche.

In December the MRC Vallée-de-la-Gatineau launched a health care pilot project with the aim of bringing local control back to healthcare. The MRC mayors council unanimously adopted a resolution in October to establish a working group focused on health to make sure that rural voices are at the table when health care decisions are made.

“I think it’s a good idea to see what more can be done locally to preserve proximity services,” MRC des Collines Prefect Marc Carrière said about the pilot project.

This week, Carrière told the Low Down that he wants to do something similar in the MRC des Collines.