Serious service failings in the health and social services sector

  • September 26, 2019

Québec City, September 26, 2019 – In her 2018-2019 Annual Report released today, Ombudsperson Marie Rinfret presents the main shortcomings seen in the health and social services network. These flaws mean that people are deprived of the services to which they have a right.

"I’m concerned about the fact that, again this year, nearly half of health and social services complaints and reports are substantiated. Since the Québec Ombudsman usually intervenes as the second level of recourse, after the institution’s service quality and complaints commissioner, this figure remains too high," said the Ombudsperson.

Examples of failings

  • After starting school, children with language impairments do not get the professional resources they need from the health and social services network for their development.
  • In some youth rehabilitation centres, suicide risk is not properly assessed. This prevents the required supervision from being carried out and jeopardizes the safety of the young people who live there.
  • Children born in Québec whose parents have a precarious migratory status do not qualify for the public health insurance plan. These children are unjustly deprived of care.
  • At some residential and long-term care centres (CHSLDs), staff shortages are the cause of lack of continuity in personal care and assistance. Reorganization of care and services becomes crucial if residents’ needs are to be met.
  • In some hospitals, assessing emergency room patients’ risk of falling is not done. 
  • Home support services for people with reduced autonomy are cut back for administrative reasons or with a view to the bottom line. As a result, year after year, the services stray from the goals of the home support policy Chez soi : le premier choix.
  • Newcomers were not able to get the home services they needed for their child because of cultural or linguistic factors. These people’s specificities and experiences must be taken into account in order to understand their needs and offer them the services they are entitled to.

The three main reasons for substantiated complaints and reports concerning the health and social services network are lengthy wait times, poor service quality and failure to respect citizens’ rights. In 2018-2019, the Québec Ombudsman intervened regarding 39 of the network’s 51 institutions, 14 other network-affiliated institutions, 40 private seniors’ residences, 18 community organizations and 8 pre-hospital emergency services.

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