Nolan: COVID-19 preparation? Quebec’s health care system has forgotten the Outaouais for years
We rarely distinguish much between Ottawa and Gatineau. We treat them as one entity for shopping, leisure and work. How many of us live in Gatineau and work in Ottawa – and vice versa? Until the police started patrolling the bridges over the Ottawa River, creating a distinction between the two, this was our reality.
But there’s always been another difference too. Health care is a provincial responsibility and it has never been clearer than now that we in West Quebec have been abandoned by our province.
Our pandemic in the Outaouais will be very different. Our health care system cannot treat us on a slow day. We rely heavily on Ottawa, which has been our generous neighbour for decades. Our province purposefully underfunds health care in what is Quebec’s third-largest city.
This region receives 25-per-cent less funding for health services than other regions in Quebec because, frankly, Ottawa was filling the gap. Citizens in Gatineau have done everything to highlight this scenario, screaming at the province to address this issue. Band-Aid solutions followed.
Now we are in crisis. Ottawa needs to focus on its own people, and is facing a daunting task. To us, it seems prepared and organized. It communicates the status of preparedness activities to the population more effectively. This pandemic will rip the Band-Aid off and expose the rotten health care system we have in Gatineau. It may come at a horrible cost; we see what happens when systems are overloaded in other countries.