My First Date with CISSSO


I apologize for the delay in posting; it wasn’t because I was on Cloud 9 after my evening spent with CISSSO last week. Rather, I had Army afterwards on Thursday night and was on Father duty all weekend. Reference last Thursday’s meeting with CISSSO, I want to offer my impressions. Ultimately, while I wasn’t impressed by my first date with CISSSO, it looks like I’ll be going back for more.

On Thursday 26 Jan 17th, I, along with other members of Pontiac Voice, attended a quasi-public meeting with CISSSO – the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais – with the aim of airing our grievances with CISSSO publicly. The Pontiac Voice committee members put a lot of work into making sure we were set up proper despite some of the hoops CISCSO made us jump through.

As you’re probably aware if you’re reading this, the CISSSO Board of Directors, appointed by the provincial Quebec government, has decided that the Shawville hospital must impose parking fees on visitors and workers in order to be standard with city hospitals. This, despite the hospital being located in a rural town that offers free parking, well, everywhere.

In addition to nickle-and-diming Pontiac residents and healthcare workers with this parking scheme, CISSSO has decided to further punish our region by shuttering the Pavillion du Parc facility located in Shawville. I will have much more writing on this travesty in the near future.

Getting back to last Thursday, I want to offer my congratulations to all that made the trip to Gatineau for the meeting, and in particular, I want to commend the Pontiac Voice committee members that organized questions to the board.There was a journalist from the Journal du Pontiac, as well as The Equiy, present for the show – good on them for showing up. CBC was present and probably other media outlets. Unions were very well represented and it was fantastic to see them get behind the Pontiac. There was political representation from one party several parties present, but I’m trying to keep politics out of this for now so I won’t spend too much time on them yet.


My sense was that a lot of people affiliated with CISSSO, at least those seated around the table at the front, were nervous about our presence. No doubt the presence of the unions added to what I perceived were feelings of apprehension on CISSSO’s end. Overt politeness combined with nobody wanting to look me in the eye when I asked my questions, combined with the way the event itself was structured make me think that everybody was a little uneasy about being called out on the parking situation. As they should have been.

Prior to going into the meeting room we have to register to ask questions by making sure our names and contact info were written on a piece of paper at the entrance. It was very bizarre; a number of people were crowded into a tiny hallway waiting to get into the room, which we weren’t allowed into until the Board had presumably debated on how to best handle us.

We had zero time for discussion with board members once we were actually let into the room. Adding to the oddities of the evening, we were only given a few minutes each to ask our questions and there was zero effort made to offer us any immediate answers. Talk about not knowing your files. My initial thought was to bully the Board into at least responding to some of my questions, but given the severely limited time we had, I halted. I worried that the Board would try to justify shutting the whole thing down by saying I had used up all of the allotted time, and that I would have prevented the Union and others from being able to speak.

So, with no answers to our questions given to us on Thursday we are to be followed up with in due course. All in all, the question session with no answers we were allocated felt like a get-them-in-quick-get-them-out-quick affair. They couldn’t have held this in the Pontiac? For shame.


I put a number of items in writing to CISSSO’s media relations person Friday morning, and I had hoped to have responses by end of day Friday in order to catch the local media cycle for this week. Ultimately I was told, politely, that CISSSO needs more time to gather up some of the info I require. Once I have some concrete responses, I will put together a doozy of an article. Stay tuned.

****Update: found a story featuring some CISSSO comments on parking maintenance costs here.

UPDATED w/interview: Shawville Hospital “Pay-to-Park” Scheme


UPDATED-Interview with CHIP FM here.

We only visit hospitals when we’re at our most vulnerable, emotionally and physically. Apparently, the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais (CISSSO) believes that this vulnerability should extend to the wallets of Pontiac residents. The CISSSO Board of Directors, appointed by the provincial Quebec government, has decided that the Shawville hospital must impose parking fees on visitors and workers in order to be standard with city hospitals.

This blanket pay-for-parking scheme ordered by the board members of the CISSSO does not take into account that Shawville is a rural community, with free parking surrounding the hospital area and in town. This ridiculous decision to charge the Pontiac for parking will entail that patients, health care workers & visitors will now park offsite from the hospital to avoid paying these fees; essentially forcing the elderly, the injured, and nurses working 12-hour shifts to walk greater distances at their own risk to get to the hospital. Residential areas will be impacted as well.

I’ve benefited from the service provided by the health care workers at the Shawville hospital and forcing nurses and admin staff to now pay more than $2400 dollars (annually) to park onsite, when we’re surrounded by free parking, just seems petty. If forcing health-care workers to pay is petty, then forcing patients and visitors is an abject travesty. Shawville, unlike urban areas with health-care centers, does not have a public transportation option readily available to those who must visit or work at the hospital.

Make no mistake – this pay-for-parking scheme 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 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, all political parties, local residents and Quebec health care worker unions need to work together to fix this.

This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a common-sense issue. In my opinion, this is also an issue that is worth picking a fight over. Paid-parking at the Shawville hospital is a decision that should be suspended immediately pending public consultation, and rescinded prior to the March implementation date.

Further reading on this issue:

Gatineau imposes paid parking on Pontiac Community Hospital | Pontiac Journal

Mayors disappointed at CISSS de l’Outaouais restructuring in Shawville

Des tarifs décriés dans le Pontiac

A Facebook group was created that has attracted more than 1500 residents –  .

Photo above obtained here.