Anglophone supporters of the Québec Liberal Party in Argenteuil recently had a chance to share their concerns about access to public services in the region with a provincial cabinet minister. At the meeting, which was held at Dunany Country Club, Kathleen Weil, the Minister Responsible for English-language Québécois Relations, answered questions and responded to comments. She was accompanied by Bernard Bigras-Denis, the Liberal candidate for Argenteuil in the next Québec election.
Robert Rodger of St-Andre d’Argenteuil, who is a member of the Argenteuil Liberal Association’s Board of Directors, was one of the organizers of the meeting. He said about 60 people attended, most of them senior citizens. The big questions and comments concerned access to public services in English, especially in hospitals and long-term care facilities. Rodger said that when the Philippe Couillard government restructured local health authorities, the Lachute Residence long-term care facility was allowed to remain as an English facility. However, it was integrated into a new regional authority with French-speaking facilities. Rodger said this causes staffing and communication challenges and those present at the meeting told Weil they would like to see changes made.
The other big issue which was discussed, according to Rodger, was hospital services in Lachute. There were concerns about long wait times and not enough staff to look after patients. The fact that many people in Argenteuil needing immediate medical assistance are driving to Ontario to use the hospital in Hawkesbury or are even being referred there for tests by doctors in Québec was also discussed. “They’re going to have to clean up their act,” said Rodger about the hospital services in Lachute.
Rodger defended the Québec Liberal as the party that respects anglophone interests and takes them seriously. He criticized Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) Leader Francois Legault’s promise to eliminate school boards if his party forms the next government. Rodger said English-language school boards are the only institutions’ anglophones can count on in some parts of Québec. He said that while the Liberals are struggling in opinion polls right now, he is not concerned about any possible drop in Liberal support among anglophones in Argenteuil. Rodger defended Bernard Bigras-Denis as the party’s candidate. He was nominated in May after incumbent MNA Yves St-Denis left the Liberal caucus in April after he was accused of sending sexually explicit photos online.