Quebec health minister refuses to say whether he has all the reports on visits to long-term care homes

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé is refusing to say if he has in hand all the inspection reports made following 'vigilance visits' to long-term care facilities in the spring of 2020.

The question was asked three times on Thursday by Liberal MNA Marc Tanguay, as Dubé rose three times to ask that the coroner's inquiry process be respected.

All week in the National Assembly, the opposition has kept up the pressure on the Legault government to explain its management of the crisis inside Quebec's CHSLDs, which resulted in 4,000 deaths in four months.

On Thursday, Tanguay wanted to know if the minister had in his possession all the inspection grids that were filled out manually by the employees making those monitoring visits.

He said the information in these grids was 'negative,' because it explained the conditions of accommodations seniors were living in during the crisis.

"It is unacceptable that the minister does not deign to answer a simple question: are the manually filled out visit grids available in their entirety or not?," he said.

"He is drowning the fish and (...) is only adding a layer of opacity in a search for truth that we want for all Quebecers and for the bereaved families," said Tanguay in interview.

Vigilance visits to the CHSLDs only began on April 14, 2020, after the tragedy at the CHSLD Herron was discovered.

Assistant deputy minister Natalie Rosebush told coroner Gehane Kamel on Nov. 16 that there was no instruction at the time to keep what was filled out by the inspectors.

The senior official explained that the inspectors recorded information in a file that "crunched" the findings noted during previous visits.

No reports were destroyed, Premier François Legault said this week in the National Assembly. Back-up copies would allow access to the 'overwritten' data.

The coroner has since called Rosebush back in and will hear from her again next week.

The minister responsible for seniors during the pandemic, Marguerite Blais, is off work and will not be answering the coroner's questions. Her office does not know when Blais will return.

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