My First Date with CISSSO

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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.

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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.

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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.

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