The reassignment of psychologists as service assistants is unacceptable, according to the Minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé. Le Devoir reported Monday that the Chaudière-Appalaches Integrated Health and Social Services Center (CISSS) has requisitioned mental health personnel to help patient attendants in sites reserved for patients with COVID-19.
The minister was closely followed during question period by the co-spokesperson for Québec solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, and Liberal MP David Birnbaum. “What is fascinating is the disconnect between what the minister is saying – that [la santé mentale] is a priority – and what is happening on the ground, ”denounced Mr. Nadeau-Dubois.
“We took action,” Dubé replied. We went to see the people of Chaudière-Appalaches [pour leur] say: there can be no “offloading” on the side of psychologists. […] So, I want to reassure him that the action taken by Chaudière-Appalaches is not in line with our government’s guidelines and that has already been corrected. There will be no “load shedding” on the side of psychologists, for mental health. “
He later added that the government had told the CISSS de Chaudière-Appalaches that the reassignment of psychologists “was not acceptable” and that those who had been asked to prepare cabarets for sick patients were going to “take over. work they did before ”.
Liberal MP David Birnbaum decried the lack of access to psychologists in the public network, while the mental health of Quebecers is severely tested during the pandemic. “Quebeckers need more access to psychologists, not less,” he said. They need a serious plan to fight this growing wave of anxiety and depression. “
Québec solidaire offers free public access to mental health care for all, while the Liberals are proposing a program that would fund 15 psychotherapy sessions.
Minister Dubé’s remarks prompted a reaction from the Alliance of Professional and Technical Personnel in Health and Social Services (APTS). “It will be necessary that the reassignment plan is well refined and that psychosocial services are put at the top of the list”, reacted its national representative in Chaudière-Appalaches, Jean-François Travers.
The Department of Health and Social Services told Le Devoir on Tuesday that it had not issued any directives regarding the reassignment of psychologists and other mental health professionals to provide assistance to patient attendants.
The CISSS de Chaudière-Appalaches made “a very unfortunate choice” which shows that the government “speaks from both sides of the mouth”, according to the Association of Groups of Intervention in the Defense of Mental Health Rights of Quebec (AGIDD- SMQ). “Maybe the directive does not come from the ministry, but the fact remains that in regions which lack personnel, which lack everything, yes it can be a decision which is perhaps more organizational, but the result remains the same, lamented its general manager, Doris Provencher. Already there are few services, so if in addition we remove them … “
Prime Minister François Legault acknowledged at a press conference that the restrictions imposed in the red zone by his government to limit the spread of COVID-19 “are hard for Quebecers” and that they “even affect the mental health of many” of them.
“I know there are mental health issues that build up in single people,” he said. So if you are lucky enough to visit one person alone, you have the right – one at a time – but you have the right to go. What we try to avoid is not having a group. “
He urged Quebeckers to call 811 in the event of a mental health problem, stress or anxiety where someone can “respond quickly”. The Prime Minister recalled that the government had recently hired nearly 300 people to improve psychological care.