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Request collective action filed against public CHSLDs

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At CHSLD Sainte-Dorothée, approximately half of the residents infected with COVID-19 died in spring 2020. (Archive photo)


Lack of preparation, decisions made in a hurry, improvisation: a class action request filed before the Superior Court of Quebec alleges that the province's public CHSLDs were negligent during the first two waves of COVID-19.< /p>

This mismanagement in CHSLDs caused outbreaks that led to at least 5,000 deaths between March 13, 2020 and March 20, 2021, the lawsuit argues.

This request for class action against the provincial government is filed on behalf of all CHSLD residents who experienced COVID-19 outbreaks during the first two waves of the pandemic, and on behalf of the families of those who died .

The main plaintiff in this case, Jean-Pierre Daubois, lost his 94-year-old mother, a resident of the CHSLD Sainte-Dorothée de Laval, in April 2020. During this first wave, almost half of its residents infected with COVID-19 died.

The CHSLD Sainte-Dorothée experienced the worst outbreak in Quebec, and one of the worst on the planet. Through what we learned in this case, we noted that there had been several shortcomings in terms of preparation and management, declared Me Patrick Martin-Ménard, the lawyer representing Mr. . Dubois.

We want the government of Quebec to be held responsible for this lack of preparation. There was serious incompetence on their part, we want that to change.

A quote from Jean-Pierre Daubois, main complainant

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The flag is at half-mast at the National Assembly on March 11, 2021, to pay tribute to the victims of COVID-19. (File photo)

During the first hearings held Monday at the Montreal courthouse, Me Martin-Ménard explained that Quebec had a plan to fight a pandemic in 2006. However, the government lacked diligence towards residents of public CHSLDs by delaying implementing this action plan, argues the lawsuit.

Quebec's pandemic response plan, said Martin-Ménard, asks the government to issue a pre-pandemic alert to health establishments when it is confirmed that a new virus is spreading from animals to humans. This fact was known as early as January 6, 2020 for COVID-19, but the province did not issue an alert, lamented the lawyer.

The government only began officially preparing for the arrival of the pandemic at the end of February, two days before the first cases were detected in the province .

What we are claiming here is that if this plan had been put in place, as it should have been in January 2020, the establishments would have had time to prepare for the pandemic and prepare vulnerable customers.

A quote from Mr. Patrick Martin-Ménard, lawyer for the plaintiffs

No specific plans were communicated to the health system regarding protecting long-term care centers until the end of March, he added. This delay caused Quebec to miss its preparation window, which led to disastrous consequences.

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A procession circulated in several CHSLDs in the Laval region to commemorate the disappearance of the victims of COVID-19 and to highlight the work of front-line employees, in March 2021. (Archive photo)

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-99c8e303-4 kaAeDr">Instead of putting the existing plan in place, the lawyer argued, the government improvised, moving patients from hospitals to long-term care centers in the aim to free up hospital beds.

These facilities were not prepared to accommodate additional patients and could not properly care for residents after the government banned visits from family caregivers, Martin-Ménard said.

In one case, he said, a woman who depended on visits from her daughter to help her eat died shortly after the ban of these visits.

The government has limited the ability of long-term care patients to go to the hospital if they have COVID-19, but the province did not ask whether long-term care centers had the capacity to treat these patients, argued the lawyer.

All of this has had very significant consequences, not only for the people who contracted COVID-19, but also for those who were hit hard by the deprivation of care they suffered as a result.

A quote from Mr. Patrick Martin-Ménard, lawyer for the plaintiffs

The lawyer declared that the class action could include more than 10,000 people. The compensation sought will depend on the number of members identified, he said, adding that it could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Lawyers for the Quebec government refused to comment on the case on Monday. The health establishments will present their counter-arguments on Thursday and Friday, after which it will be up to the judge to decide whether the class action can move forward or not.

With information from The Canadian Press

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116