According to Radio-Canada findings, as early as September 2019, the regional public health authorities knew that the lung cancer mortality rate was higher in Rouyn-Noranda and wanted to inform the population.
Appendix 6 of the Notre-Dame Neighborhood Biomonitoring Study Report notes these concerns but was edited at the request of Dr. Arruda not published.
For Parti Québécois health spokesman Joël Arseneau, these revelations are startling.
The revelations this morning (Monday) are serious, very serious. This is shocking news. When we know the role and trust we must have in the National Health Agency in protecting the health, safety and lives of people and that there is such vital information about the possible links between a smelter’s arsenic fumes and the surrounding environment Municipality of Rouyn-Noranda […]that this information is voluntarily withheld from the public, I do not understand this decisionhe mentions.
Quebec Liberal Party environmental spokesperson Isabelle Melançon agrees.
” I am extremely shocked. Shocked because the legislators who sit in the National Assembly did not have all the information on the cancer situation in Abitibi-Témiscamingue available to Quebec citizens. »
Ms. Melançon makes the connection between the arsenic file and that of nickel, this metal for which the Quebec government recently authorized an increase in emissions into the atmosphere.
It brings me back to a file on my mind, which is increasing the rate of nickel in the air. Do we have all the information? I’m not sure, I have doubts. I have to tell you that trust is eroded today when we see that we have hidden information. I don’t think it’s dr. It was Arruda who wanted Annex 6 withdrawn, I think more that there was political manipulationbelieves the member for Verdun.
Isabelle Melançon argues that the revelations about Rouyn-Noranda cast doubt on the information that was released to the public to justify the allowed increases in airborne nickel levels.
If we had information hidden in 2019, I think we can continue to hide information from ourselves in 2022she argues.
What powers for the regional health authorities?
It is surprising for the Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue MNA and Québec solidaire environmental spokesperson Émilise Lessard-Therrien to see the national director of public health intervening in the regional management of the ‘Abitibi-Témiscamingue in this way.
” If our regional health board found it relevant to include this data in their biomonitoring report, I don’t understand why the national government stepped in and asked them to remove this data, given that it is extremely worrying. »
If we had had this data in 2019, the population might have acted more and there would have been more pressure on the government to take quick and concrete action on the arsenic file, she says.
For his part, the spokesman for the Parti Québécois agrees with his supporting colleague and emphasizes the importance of exercising caution on public health issues.
There are reasons for reflection, especially when the regional directors say: ‘it might be better to keep the precautionary principle’. We would expect the higher decision-making body, the national health directorate, to retain the precautionary principlesays Joël Arseneau.
No state intervention, says François Legault
According to stakeholders from the three main opposition parties, the two roles of national director for public health and deputy minister are incompatible, allowing political considerations to influence public health decisions.
Québec Premier François Legault, speaking through Estrie on Monday, denied any form of government intervention in the decision not to release Appendix 6 of the report on the 2019 biomonitoring study.
” We didn’t intervene. What I learned this morning from the conversation with Dr. What Arruda’s team understood is that he was waiting for more information to be more specific about the cancer risks, but we didn’t intervene and we never intervened. Public health is fully autonomous. »
According to Isabelle Melançon, however, the line between public health and government needs to be drawn more clearly.
There really needs to be a firewall between politics and public health, which is currently not the case due to gender confusion unfortunately. I would like to remind you that the person who is the director of public health is also currently an assistant minister. The CAQ government has not learned from its mistakes because it has reappointed a new director of public health who is also deputy secretary of health, which is not workingexpresses them.
Was there a political cover-up? I think the answer is yesadds Isabelle Melançon
Crossing that boundary between politics and public health, Émilise Lessard-Therrien believes that government decisions are too often motivated by economic motives and are sometimes made at the expense of health and the environment.
When I asked a question about the arsenic dossier in Parliament two weeks ago, the Business Secretary replied that it was his department that was analyzing Glencore’s plan to reduce its arsenic emissions. Why isn’t it health? Why isn’t it environment? This is further proof that the economic aspect takes precedence over the health aspect. At the moment I have many more questions than answerscloses them.
With the collaboration of Jean-Marc Belzile