One week after the findings of a damning report from Quebec's complaints and service quality commissioner, western Quebec's health authority announced it is temporarily taking control over La Victorienne, the private residence at the centre of the report.
Yves St-Onge, CEO of Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO), announced the decision in a statement Tuesday.
The statement, written in French, said the act that governs health services gives him the power to appoint someone as a provisional administrator at the home, which cares for people living with intellectual and physical disabilities.
"The implementation of the provisional administration was decided based on the current situation at La Victorienne residence and the fact that we have questions about the … residence's capacity to ensure the best quality of care and the safety of its residents," the statement from CISSSO reads.
At a news conference Tuesday, St-Onge said he'd received an equally damning report from the Quebec ombudsman, who visited the care home "unannounced" last June.
St-Onge said CISSSO has complete control over La Victorienne.
"The difference is [that before] we supported, but we didn't manage. Now, I have complete management over the organization. The owner can't make any decisions about the management of this residence," he said.
La Victorienne, a private residence for people with intellectual and physical disabilities, is now under the administrative control of the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais. La Victorienne says it plans to fully co-operate. (Radio-Canada)
Marc P. Desjardins, the manager of health and social services with CISSSO, has been appointed the provisional administrator.
"This decision aims to improve the quality and safety of the care and services offered at the residence," the health authority's statement said.
St-Onge said the provisional administration period lasts for "120 days, according to the law."
"I can extend it for 90 days. I can, after 120 days or before 120 days, make another decision I deem appropriate," he added.
Yves St-Onge, CEO of CISSSO, announced on Tuesday that the health authority would be taking control over a private residence for people living with intellectual and physical disabilities. (Radio-Canada)
La Victorienne says it will fully co-operate
In a written statement to Radio-Canada, La Victorienne said it will fully co-operate with the new management team and CISSSO.
"We are … the first to want to shed a light on the circumstances experienced at La Victorienne in 2021 and 2022," the residence wrote in a French statement.
La Victorienne said it also intends to request an investigation from the Order of Quebec Nurses, and will also collaborate with that.
A relief for grieving mother
CISSSO's decision comes as a relief to Christiane Latour, the mother of Benoît Lauzon, a former resident of La Victorienne.
Lauzon, who had Down syndrome, died at the Hull Hospital on Nov. 4, 2021, due to an error in medical dosage.
A report by Quebec's complaints and service quality commissioner found in the weeks leading up to his death, Lauzon suffered "organizational mistreatment by negligence" at his residence.
His mother was the first to denounce the mistreatment her son faced within the private residence.
Christiane Latour was the first to publicly denounce the mistreatment her son, Benoît Lauzon, faced at the private residence. (Radio-Canada)
"I couldn't be happier. It's been almost two years, I've mourned not once, but twice. I've been worrying about the 58 users of La Victorienne for almost two years. Namely, 'are they being treated well? Are they doing better two years later?'" said Latour in French.
"To know that they're [in provisional administration] it does my mother's heart good."
The report by Quebec's complaints and service quality commissioner noted several shortcomings at La Victorienne. The commissioner said from September 2021 to June 2022 — one year after the residence opened — 11 reports had been filed by relatives of residents there.
'Things need to change'
Lionel Carmant, Quebec's minister responsible for social services, called for changes in the wake of the news. In a French statement, Carmant said what he's been hearing about the situation at La Victorienne is "unacceptable."
"We determined that too many doubts remain regarding the organization's ability to ensure the safety of its users and to respect the highest quality standards of care," the minister said in a statement.
"What we're learning from various reports and articles in recent weeks is simply unacceptable. Things need to change," he added.
André Fortin, who represents Pontiac in Quebec's legislature, says the move from CISSSO was inevitable, but there's more he'd like to see done to address issues at La Victorienne. (Radio-Canada)
André Fortin, who represents Pontiac in Quebec's legislature, said CISSSO's decision was inevitable, given the commissioner's recent damning report.
"No complaints commissioner ever uses the term organizational mistreatment through negligence. And subsequently [when we learned there were other files where serious breaches occurred], it became the only possible solution for us," he said in a French interview.
However, Fortin said the matter is far from closed, adding he'd like to see the director of criminal and penal prosecutions take charge of the case.
"Let's get to the bottom of things, let's ensure that the people who are responsible for this mistreatment are judged according to the laws we have in place. There is a law on mistreatment. I believe this is the number one test for this law," Fortin said.