Bonjour-Hi!

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Bonjour-Hi readers,

The continually irrelevant Parti Quebecois recently introduced a non-binding motion in the National Assembly calling for business owners to greet customers with  “bonjour” instead of “bonjour-hi”; “bonjour-hi” being frequently used by shopkeeps in certain areas of Quebec, particularly in Montreal. Unbelievably, the motion passed and was unanimously supported by all parties in the National Assembly.

Yes, with the many issues we face as a province, this is where our politicians are turning their attention to.  French is a wonderful language, and measures to protect it such as accessible language training should be in place across the province. Harassing business owners with the travesty that is Bill 101, or passing ridiculous motions encouraging business owners to speak a certain way are terrible ways to go about enshrining the French language in our culture.

Taxpaying business owners should greet whomever in whichever way they prefer. It is absolutely ridiculous to police private enterprises, through a non-binding legislative motion, in an effort to make them speak a certain way. What an international embarrassment!

There are so many problems in the world, and every second the National Assembly devotes to this is time not spent on real issues such as the economy and health care. I hope this is the last we hear of this nonsense.

Au revoir – goodbye!

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Quebec elections have concluded!

Sunday was truly a fine exercise of democracy in Quebec. Municipal elections have concluded, and our region featured a number of close races for many elected positions.

Election campaigns always create debate, and sometimes the resulting discourse can venture into less congenial territory. With the election concluded, it is time now to come together as municipalities, and as neighbors.

To everyone who had the guts to put your name on a ballot – you are deserving of our respect, and our gratitude. Every single candidate, victorious or not, should be holding their head up high today. I think that despite differences in policy and in opinion, it is very easy to speak to the high-level of commitment shown by all candidates throughout a long and sometimes difficult campaign.

The future is bright for us in Quebec, and it is an exciting time to begin a mandate as part of a municipal government.

Congratulations to all who have helped build our region into what it is today, and to all who will shape what our region will become tomorrow.

Thank you to The Equity

I was pleased to attend last’s week Warden debate at Pontiac High School (PHS), as hosted by The Equity.

It was standing room only in the PHS auditorium– a great indicator that there is a tremendous amount of interest in our upcoming municipal elections. It was also a great relief to be in that auditorium and not give a speech, as many years ago (as a PHS student) it was an annual requirement for me.

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I wish to offer my congratulations to all candidates who participated.

I believe we also owe The Equity our thanks for organizing and moderating this event.

As we’re all aware, the media landscape is quickly evolving through expansion of the internet and through increased uptake of digital news content. I feel it is essential now more than ever before for us to recognize and support our local media outlets, including local radio (ChipFm recently contributed to the democratic process as well, by covering a separate Warden debate earlier in the week).

Rural areas, unlike our urban cousins, don’t always have the proper web infrastructure to ensure that residents have consistent access to digital news on the internet. This is problematic across Canada, and rural media outlets typically punch above their weight in terms of outreach, at great financial cost.

It’s likely we will never see Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other online media platforms organize a local debate in the Pontiac, and thus we can’t take it for granted when our local media outlets put forth extra effort to ensure we are informed about what affects us.

#PontiacQc municipal elections: coming soon to a town near you

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(English follows the French below)

Les élections générales municipales au Québec approchent rapidement et c’est un sujet excitant chez les Woodman.

Pour moi, la politique municipale est une forme d’art. En grande partie dépourvu de partisanerie qui caractérise les campagnes provinciales et fédérales, les campagnes municipales permettent de discuter d’enjeux locaux, dans un environnement où le candidat lui-même est plus important que son parti politique.

De plus, les élus municipaux ont un impact direct et rapide sur le destin de leur communauté; ils peuvent faire avancer des dossiers qui auront des effets immédiats et visibles au sein de la communauté.

Je suis très heureux de voir que The Equity a pris l’initiative d’organiser un débat parmi les candidats au poste de préfet de la MRC de Pontiac. Je suis également heureux que ce débat aura lieu dans l’une de nos communautés locales.

Je suis complètement en accord avec un éditorial apparu récemment dans The Equity, il faut encourager les gens à suivre attentivement le déroulement des élections municipales et de s’impliquer. Les jeunes, en particulier, devraient considérer s’impliquer ou de présenter leur candidature.

La diversité des points de vue est une richesse et chaque candidat (e) a quelque chose à offrir au processus démocratique. Je tiens à féliciter tous les candidats (e) impliqués dans cette campagne électorale.

À l’heure actuelle, le plus grand obstacle à la politique est l’inconnu – où commencez? Comment s’inscrire? Quelles étapes sont nécessaires?

Faites quelques recherches et demandez autour de vous. Vous trouverez plusieurs réponses auprès de votre municipalité et du gouvernement du Québec.

***********

Quebec municipal elections are quickly approaching, making for an early Christmas-like atmosphere of excitement in the Woodman household.

To me, municipal politics are truly the most satisfying form of the fine art of the possible. Largely devoid of the partisanship that characterizes provincial and federal campaigns, municipal races allow the public debate and discussion of local issues, in an environment where the candidate themselves is more important than their party affiliation.

At this level of government, elected officials are best positioned to enact rapid, apparent visible change to their communities; while federal and provincial officials by comparison take on important decisions that may not have the same immediate, visible impact locally.

I am extremely pleased to see that The Equity has taken the initiative to organize a debate amongst the candidates for the position of MRC Pontiac Warden. I am also pleased that the venue is within one of our local communities, as opposed to another outside jurisdiction.

I wish to echo the sentiments expressed in a recent Equity editorial encouraging people to get involved in our municipal elections– by being a candidate, or by supporting another’s candidacy. Young people in particular should give strong consideration to getting involved as candidates.

Every candidate has something to offer to the democratic process, even if their views conflict with your own. As such, I congratulate all candidates for Warden, Mayor or Councillor on their decision enter the race to serve our communities.

Right now, the biggest barrier to enter politics is the unknown – where do I start? How do I get registered? What steps are needed?

Obtaining this information may appear daunting at first, but do some research. Ask around. Contact your municipality or Elections Quebec for more info. You might be surprised as to how easy it can be.

There is no reason why anybody should think that political representation is out of their reach. Best of luck to all candidates as we approach November.

 

 

 

The CISSSO saga marches onward

I read with great interest last week’s editorial feature in The Equity, concerning the state of health care in this region and the province of Quebec as a whole.

I am not opposed to centralization, with the caveat that I think centralized service coordination of health care should still be tailored to meet the needs of the population it serves. I think it is obvious that CISSSO requires some work in this regard. The pay-for-parking scheme is one of the most visible aspects of what transpires when local voices are cut out of the conversation.

Blanket solutions for healthcare issues, that treat every region and facility the same, are not feasible for needs that vary greatly from region to region. Our hospital and patient needs are different here than in other regions of the province, as they would be for facilities and needs of any region.

Pontiac has an excellent network of health care facilities, with caring and compassionate workers.

Quebec should strive to bring other regions and facilities up to the standard of care offered here in the Pontiac. Yet we are seemingly faced with organizational efforts that are bringing the Pontiac DOWN to the levels of other less-successful areas of Quebec when it comes to health care.

I am pleased that health care continues to remain an important topic for all of the people of our region. I am further encouraged by my colleagues that make up Pontiac Voice, who so diligently and respectfully advocate on this issue.

Greater input from “boots on the ground” healthcare workers will be one of the catalysts to improving our health care system across the province going forward.

One measure that we, the residents, must undertake is to remain involved in the conversation and to not allow this issue to fall by the wayside. I am optimistic that this conversation will continue, and that our voice will grow ever louder.

 

Pontiac Member of Parliament expense claims

A recent report on Member of Parliament expenditures highlighted that Pontiac Liberal MP Will Amos has some of the highest single hospitality expenditures out of all 338 Members of Parliament. (http://nationalpost.com/news/politics/larry-potter-and-the-139364-timbits-a-year-in-mp-entertainment-expenses/wcm/de0e3f99-c0f0-44dc-bd8e-44cbee51a914)

Large dollar claims aside, Mr. Amos has also made smaller expense claims that I would consider unbecoming.

Buried online is one such claim for $6.70, at an Ottawa coffee shop near Parliament Hill.

Amos expense

The act of making an expense claim requires unseen administration to accomplish.

An MP’s local staff are required to fill-out paperwork and submit it to the House of Commons.

Public servants that make up the administration staff there are then required to do a significant amount of paperwork in claims processing.

Currently, Members of Parliament earn a $172,700 annual base salary. They earn an even higher salary if they are appointed to additional Parliamentary roles.

MPs are allowed to expenses items related to their jobs, and legitimate expense claims should not be thought ill of.

When the staff of Mr. Amos must devote time to processing coffee expense claims for $6.70, it takes away from their time capably serving our region.

This type of claim, and several others made by Mr. Amos, are items that one would think could come out of his own pocket.

I respectfully encourage Mr. Amos to be mindful of his expenses going forward, and to always consider the taxpayer first.

Hospital Bound

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Image taken from Google Maps

As I write this I am preparing to head in for surgery tomorrow at our hospital in Shawville, to patch up a hernia that’s been causing me some grief for a while.

Each time I am at our hospital I’m reminded as to how fortunate we are to have the good people that work there looking after us.

The Pontiac community has banded together and met with some success in our fight against attempts to impose nonsensical parking fees on our rural population. We must not let up.

It is an understatement to say that a lot has happened here recently, with many people having contributed in a multitude of ways to combat the flooding that occurred here recently.

The region showed, as it always does, community spirit at a level that is rarely seen elsewhere today.

I want to re-iterate how important rural hospitals are in maintaining this sense of community spirit.

The CISSSO blanket policy on hospital parking does not take into account how different rural communities are compared to their urban counterparts. The CISSSO pay-to-park scheme will pull money from our communities needlessly, and likely won’t even be able to pay for its own administration.

Why should we penalize our population, healthcare workers and the taxpayer for nothing??

I see attempts to divide our community with talk of enforcing parking fees for workers only.  The senseless nickel and diming of our health care workers with parking fees, when rural hospitals are surrounded by free parking, is akin at an attack on them.

An attack on our health care workers is an attack on all of us.

Let’s keep up the fight against CISSSO – contact them today and let them know you support rural health care and rural health care workers.

All for one, and one for all.

Benjamin Woodman

 

Contact CISSSO:

commissairesauxplaintes@ssss.gouv.qc.ca

Contact Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette:

ministre@msss.gouv.qc.ca

 

Sample Email Text (French text will come at some point I promise):

“I support rural health care, and rural health care workers. The pay-for-parking scheme that is planned for the Shawville hospital, and already implemented in other rural areas, will not improve our local health care; it will only take more money from the pockets of health care workers and local residents.

Rural communities such as those within the Pontiac often are overlooked in favor of urban areas, or lumped in on decisions that are city-centric. All elected officials from all levels of Government and all political parties need to work together to fix this.

Will you support rural health care and end the pay-to-park scheme for rural hospitals?

Grateful to hear your response.”

Sincerely,

xxx

 

NOTE – include the following with your email:

Name

Address

Phone number

A complaint form – http://cisss-outaouais.gouv.qc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/FORMULAIRE-DE-PLAINTE_R%C3%89GIONAL_ANGLO_10ao%C3%BBt16.pdf

PLEASE SHARE – Help fight CISSSO’s attack on rural health care

The Shawville Hospital is located in a rural area, surrounded by free street parking, and the implementation of a paid parking system for the hospital has received tremendous opposition from municipal and provincial leaders, political parties, and the public at large. CISSSO is now issuing warning tickets to hospital employees who are parking onsite. Employees will be required to pay for parking before the general population does.

Warning ticket issued to a hospital worker

Some keen-eyed Pontiac Voice members noticed that tickets were being issued to health care workers in Shawville today.

This is unacceptable. We need to stand up for our  hospital employees. Take 2 short minutes to email CISSSO and tell them what you think about their plans to charge rural hospital workers and visitors for parking.

Feel free to CC Quebec’s Health Care Minister; I have added his email address below as well. Just copy and paste both addresses into your email field! Below is a sample text you can copy and paste as your email text as well.

CISSSO:

commissairesauxplaintes@ssss.gouv.qc.ca

Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette:

ministre@msss.gouv.qc.ca

Sample Email Text:

“I support rural health care, and rural health care workers. The pay-for-parking scheme that is planned for the Shawville hospital, and already implemented in other rural areas, will not improve our local health care; it will only take more money from the pockets of health care workers and local residents.

Rural communities such as those within the Pontiac often are overlooked in favor of urban areas, or lumped in on decisions that are city-centric. All elected officials from all levels of Government and all political parties need to work together to fix this.

Will you support rural health care and end the pay-to-park scheme for rural hospitals?

Grateful to hear your response.

Sincerely,

XXXX”

Write anything you want of course; this is only a sample! Please do be respectful.

Can we get 1000 email messages sent to CISSSO? Pontiac Voice has almost 3000 members.  If 1/3 people who see this send an email to CISSSO, we will be sending them a lot of reading material!

Comment on this post in Pontiac Voice or below after you send your email so we can keep a tally!

Health care workers help us when we’re at our most vulnerable. Let’s return the favour.

No more public transit credit

The federal Liberal Government recently released a budget that, as expected, continues to add never-ending debt and deficits to Canada’s bottom line.

However, I am extremely surprised to see that the Liberal budget has also raised taxes on the middle-class and simultaneously hurt the environment by eliminating a tax credit for public transit users. Public transit will now be more expensive for every regular user in the country. Some users will no longer see a cost-benefit to taking public transit, and this will ultimately contribute to more cars on the road, leading to increased urban traffic jams and greater emissions.

It is unbecoming for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to accept private transport from a billionaire friend, to a free vacation in the Bahamas. For Trudeau to now turn around and add to the day-to-day transportation costs of regular Canadians is petty and distasteful.

I’m certain Justin Trudeau will offer a half-hearted explanation when questioned on these actions. Actions of course, speak louder than words, but in the Pontiac we don’t seem to receive much of either from the Liberal Government.

I would like to see the public transit credit restored.

 

CISSSO visits Pontiac

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 Over 120 people attended a public meeting on health care in the Pontiac

March 20th saw representatives of the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais (CISSSO) descend upon Pontiac for a public meeting on health care. Over 120 people attended the meeting, which featured strong representation from municipal leaders, health care professionals, and union representatives.

The pay-to-park scheme that was tentatively set to be implemented at the Shawville Hospital on April 1 of this year was discussed in depth. For a number of months Pontiac Voice – a community Facebook group nearing 3000 members – has fought the needless implementation of this scheme.The Shawville Hospital is located in a rural area, surrounded by free street parking, and the implementation of a paid system has received tremendous opposition from municipal and provincial leaders, political parties, and the public at large.

People will not pay for something they can obtain for free, and hospital patients will simply park further away – potentially at their own risk – to avoid these fees. Unlike in urban areas, paid-parking will not even be able to pay for itself here.

Pontiac Voice has achieved results. We were successful in pushing back the implementation date for paid-parking to April 1st of this year.  Due to our pressure, CISSSO just announced the possibility of a deal to be worked out between municipalities that surround the Shawville Hospital, where we would see the costs of parking paid for by our municipalities as opposed to hospital visitors.

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The implementation of paid-parking at the Shawville Hospital for the general population now appears to be on hold pending discussion. Hospital employees would still be forced to pay for their own parking, and are still set to begin paying as of April 1.

This tentative arrangement is not an ideal solution for several reasons. Primarily, the costs of parking will still have to be paid for by the local community. Municipal budgets are stretched thin as it is, and there is little wiggle-room for the taxpayer in today’s economy. Pontiac faces serious economic challenges, and burdening our population with additional fees and taxes must be avoided at all cost.

Additionally, I’ve stayed overnight at the Shawville Hospital. Healthcare workers have difficult jobs, not solely because they occasionally have to deal with the likes of me, but because in addition to their medical work they also act as counselors to those who are grieving. They are social workers, keeping the fabric of our lives together when we are vulnerable – we must return the favour.

I commend our municipal leaders for thinking outside the box and for working on our behalf. The most significant aspect of CISSSO willing to negotiate with municipalities is that it means we have gotten noticed. We must continue to make our voice heard now more than ever.

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Many medical facilities within the federal boundaries of the Pontiac are rural in nature, and several already charge for parking. Email CISSSO at commissairesauxplaintes@ssss.gouv.qc.ca and tell them you support rural health care and rural health care workers: NO to paid-parking at rural hospitals!

United with one voice we are impossible to ignore.