Dr. Boileau “did not play his role” in the nickel file, deplores the PLQ

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Dr. Boileau “did’not play his role” in the nickel case, deplores the PLQ

National director of public health, Dr. Luc Boileau, does not commit to making new recommendations on nickel, as requested the QLP.

The national director of public health “is not sending a reassuring message to the population” regarding the nickel standard, according to the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) . In a letter of which Radio-Canada has obtained a copy, Dr. Luc Boileau does not seem willing to make new recommendations to the Legault government in this file.

He is still waiting and I do not know why, deplores the spokesperson for the PLQ in terms of health, Monsef Derraji. It's time we're wasting, adds the MP, worried about the new standard on nickel in the air which has been in effect since April 28 and which is five times more permissive than the old one.

Mr. Derraji and his fellow environmental spokesperson, Isabelle Melançon, had written to Dr. Boileau in June expressing their concerns in light of new information being revealed to us, day after day, on the importance of air quality.

They especially demanded that Dr. Boileau make new recommendations to the government in order to better protect the health of Quebecers.

However, in his official response dated July 12, Dr. Boileau dodges this specific request. The national director of public health rather lists a series of actions undertaken, without ever indicating whether he intends to make new recommendations.

This is an incomplete response, laments Mr. Derraji.

“In the nickel file, the response I received, the national director of public health did not play his role. »

— Monsef Derraji, Quebec Liberal Party Health Critic

Monsef Derraji, PLQ health spokesperson

Mr. Derraji recalls that the 18 regional directors of public health in Quebec had recommended to the government not to relax its nickel standard, thus going against the grain of the Regional Public Health Department.

The Quebec Association of Physicians for the Environment (AQME) also opposed it, indicating that a fundamental scientific error had crept into the risk assessment of the new nickel standard for human health. /p>

The fears are especially acute in the Limoilou district, near the port of Quebec, where the mining company Glencore is engaged in nickel transshipment activities.

A study disclosed last April also showed that residents of the area were exposed to concentrations of nickel in the air four times higher than those observed in the Saint-Sacrement district, a few kilometers away.

< p class="e-p">While not committing to new recommendations, Dr. Boileau attempts to be reassuring in his July 12 letter.

“It goes without saying that the [Direction générale de la santé publique] will study, as necessary, the new elements of the file that are brought to us, with the help of its network of experts. »

— Excerpt from the letter from Dr. Luc Boileau sent to MPs Monsef Derraji and Isabelle Melançon on July 12, 2022

If he also says to take note of the comments of the regional directors who oppose to the new standard, he believes that several steps have already been taken to limit nickel emissions and public exposure.

At the moment, the General Directorate of Public Health (DGSP) proposes in particular the implementation of good practices, the monitoring of emissions and the quality of ambient air, the sharing of data and the monitoring of preventive measures, details Dr. Boileau.

This response puzzles Mr. Derraji. Let him listen to science, let him listen to all of his [regional] directors of public health!

Like others before him, Mr. Derraji questions the independence of the national director of public health, who also wears the hat of assistant deputy minister at the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS).

“Is there someone in the Legault government preventing him from #x27;act? That's the crux of the matter: he's both deputy minister and director of public health.

—Monsef Derraji, Quebec Liberal Party Health Critic

I expect him [to play] his part, to make recommendations as soon as possible, because that's what he's paid for and that's that's its role. I'm not asking him to protect the government, that's not his role, thunders the Liberal MP.

Interpellated by Radio-Canada, the MSSS did not whether or not Dr. Boileau intends to issue new recommendations on nickel.

The role of public health remains the monitoring of health status and the reduction impacts on health, said spokesperson Marie-Claude Lacasse in an email.

Mechanisms, such as the committees on contaminant monitoring, make it possible to monitor the health of the population and to assess whether there are any impacts, she adds.

Quebec is keeping its nickel control plan secret

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