Veterans suing over declining care at Quebec-run Ste. Anne's Hospital

A former solider, living out of his final days at the Ste. Anne de Bellevue Veterans Hospital, has decided to take on one more battle. At 95-years-old Lieut. (Ret.) Wolf William Solkin is going to the ramparts for all others like him.

"There's a tsunami of problems," said Solkin, who has filed a class action lawsuit against both levels of government, for what he calls a degradation of services, resulting from the transfer of the hospital from federal to provincial jurisdiction, in April 2016.

Also named in the suit is the Montreal West Island Integrated University Health and Social Services Centre (CIUSSS), the health authority which manages the hospital.

Control was passed over to the province because fewer and fewer veterans were around to fill the 10 floors at Ste. Anne's and immediately, the province started filling the rooms with civilians.

At the time of the transfer, the provincial government promised two things to Solkin and his fellow veterans.

Services in English falling short

"They promised to maintain the same level of care, and they promised to continue to do so in the veteran's preferred language," Solkin said in an interview with CJAD 800.

Almost immediately, the provincial government fell short on both of those promises, he said.

"On the very day of the transfer there was a mass exodus of federally employed staff, Solkin said, estimating that close to 40 per cent of the staff left because of the transfer to the provincial system, which offers inferior salary and benefits.

He says the hospital has never recovered, and struggles to maintain a regular and well trained staff, which affects the many patients who are struggling with Alzheimer's and Dementia, whom require a sense of security, stability and familiarity with those who are taking care of them.

'Strange faces, strange voices'

"They are now subjected to strange faces, strange voices, strange hands on an almost daily, giving cause for great instability, great confusion, and great deterioration in condition," he said.
Staff shortages have also meant Solkin often has to track his own medication, and whereas he used to receive monthly catheter checks, he now only sees his urologist every 3 weeks.

"I suffered major bladder infection and subsequent kidney failure," he said. "I was rushed to the emergency hospital where I was literally on death's door."

"That's an inexcusable deterioration of care, anybody would agree," he said. 

The suit is seeking $30 million in funding he believes is owed to the hospital, plus moral damages for the 166 patients that have been living under the new provincial regime.

He is also seeking damages for the heirs of the residents who lived at the hospital after April 1, 2016, but have since passed away.