Ombudsman offers opposition tool to hammer Quebec Liberals ahead of election | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Ombudsman offers opposition tool to hammer Quebec Liberals ahead of election

September 28, 2017 - 12:32 PM

MONTREAL - Quebec's ombudsman gave the opposition the perfect tool to hammer the government ahead of the 2018 provincial election: she said on Thursday that Liberal efforts to balance the budget are hurting the elderly.

While the Liberals have posted a series of balanced budgets since taking office and are expected to be flush with cash before next fall's election, the government hasn't been able to dispel the impression their economic successes have come off the backs of society's most vulnerable.

Marie Rinfret's first report since becoming ombudsman noted that despite the well-documented fact Quebec's population is aging, home care for the elderly is "levelling down" and "unacceptable."

The number of people receiving home care fell about one per cent between 2015-16, she said. Additionally, the average length of time dedicated per patient, at home, fell seven per cent between 2010-16.

Rinfret noted long delays and rising frustration throughout the health care sector. She also said the number of complaints her office received increased 38 per cent since around the time the Liberal party won office in 2014.

"The number of complaints judged well-founded increased by 58 per cent over the same period, since 2013-14," she told reporters.

Parti Quebecois Leader Jean-Francois Lisee was quick to pounce on the news, saying the Liberal party has a "compassion deficit."

Lisee has made it clear through public comments and speeches his party's main line of attack against the Liberals will be on health care and education.

Thursday's question period reflected the strategy.

"The day of the year the premier hoped wouldn't come is the day the ombudsman deflated the Liberals' propaganda balloon about the so-called end to their toxic austerity program," Lisee said.

"The day when (she) would deflate the propaganda balloon that the Liberals' sound management created billions in surpluses in order to give back pre-electoral treats. But on the backs of whom?"

Couillard's response wasn't particularly hard-hitting; he asked the PQ leader to review the reports during the time his party was in power "and the problems were more serious."

Mini-scandals regarding elderly care have dogged the Liberals since their election in 2014.

Health Minister Gaetan Barrette was embarrassed after news reports indicated the elderly in government-run residences were fed "powdered potatoes."

He said more money would be invested for better food and he made a big show of inviting journalists with cameras to a residence in 2016 in order to try the meals given to the province's seniors.

Barrette was also targeted during the "bath scandal," when the opposition attacked the government for only offering seniors one single bath per week in residences.

The minister announced in September a multi-million dollar investment in order to hire a few hundred extra employees, specifically to give seniors "two baths per week — if they want one," he said.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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