“We saw what happened in Ottawa, it’s not funny and it’s going to happen, that’s for sure, it’s starting, and we have to prepare,” announced Mr. St-Onge in an interview with Le Droit.
Mr. St-Onge’s concern is the “disastrous” increase in synthetic drugs in circulation. Anyone, he said, can find a recipe on the Internet, make ingredients in their basement and sell them on the street. This concern about the coming storm should be an incentive to mobilize and find solutions. The event will highlight the primary problem of overdoses, exacerbate issues of poverty and dependency, and complicate the fight against homelessness.
“We are out of control,” he pointed out. We are not only talking about pot and hash, but about synthetic products that are very dangerous to health and are produced everywhere. We have poor people with mental problems buying these cheapest street drugs. And the cheaper it is, the more waste it is. It starts to be very worrying and it is very difficult to resist, to face it, it is very clear. “
CISSSO cannot do everything alone, says Mr. St-Onge. None more so than the City of Gatineau and community organizations. “It takes the whole society to deal with this,” he said. We all have to do this. This should include educating the population and not just the people who travel. There have been many overdoses at home. People with a roof over their heads buy junk and go to the emergency room or worse, die. “
Mr. St-Onge spoke on Sunday with the mayor of Gatineau, France Bélisle. It was agreed to organize a meeting on the issue of overdoses, hard drugs and “how to prepare for the inevitable in Gatineau.” Mr. St-Onge stated that the Department of Public Health is currently preparing a plan and that the preparation should include the City of Gatineau.
The formal outing of Mayor Bélisle against the Minister responsible for Social Services, Lionel Carmant, last week, was clearly mentioned in the interview. Mr. St-Onge says he doesn’t want to judge. “The mayor made his statement, the minister made his, I have communication with both and as a civil servant of the state that provides services, I have to remain neutral. I always talk to Minister Carmant and his team. They are monitoring the situation closely, but it is also a complex file where different ministries are involved. It is about housing, poverty, mental health and addiction. It involves so many players that everyone is wondering who is responsible .
Mr. St-Onge recalled that CISSSO’s responsibility is to offer physical and mental health services. “I cannot feed and house the entire poor population of the Outaouais, that is not my mandate,” he insisted. The CISSSO, explained the top official, is acting where it can and putting in place measures to support people and help them get off the streets.
“But at the same time,” he asked, “have we been talking about the fight against poverty for several years and the gap between the rich and the poor is widening? It’s a social problem, everywhere in the world, and no one has found the recipe. Sure if we put more resources into CISSSO we’ll have more people, but it’s always the same thing. We cannot solve a fundamental issue like poverty and housing like that. I want to add resources, but I can say the same thing for every CISSSO department. People are disappearing everywhere. ” Therefore, there is no question for the CEO of CISSSO to ask for millions of additional dollars to hire more speakers. “There, we need to build on what we’re doing and do better with the teams we have.”
The big boss of the CISSSO also specified that his teams are in the process of “shopping for construction trailers” that can serve as a warm stop for the winter on the ground near the Robert-Guertin Center. “This is our number one option (while waiting for the construction in 2024 of the permanent heat stop funded by the City of Gatineau), he said. I’m waiting for information. It can be resolved immediately, in seven or eight days . We are still waiting for the final answer of an organization to take care of it, but if it is refused, we are ready and we will operate it. If it is not trailers, it will be a heated tent where people can go for to rest and warm up. We do not intend to add more speakers, that is not what the homeless will come to this location. However, we will make sure it is safe at all times.”
The story of this 27-year-old woman (and not 18 as France Bélisle said at the Tax Summit on Friday) who gave birth alone, in a wooded area in downtown Gatineau, will leave its mark on many minds in these days. . This type of situation, however, is more complicated to manage than it seems, determined Mr. St-Onge. Community stakeholders also said the same thing after Ms. Bélisle in Montreal on Thursday.
“This is not the first time that a homeless woman is pregnant and has to give birth, our groups are used to seeing this,” said Mr. St-Onge. Usually, when our teams learn that a homeless woman is pregnant, we offer to accompany her to all the services that other pregnant women receive. She was also offered a roof over her head, a place to live until she gave birth. The answer can be very different from one woman to another. Some people don’t want to know about our help and legally we can’t do anything. We cannot intervene by force, even if we think that the fetus is in danger. “
Once the child is in the world the Youth Protection Department (DYP) can intervene because a situation of homelessness is judged to be able to compromise the development and safety of the child. “A judge usually makes the decision to protect the child while the mother gets her act together,” Mr. St-Onge specified.
In the case narrated by the mayor, Mr. St-Onge explained that the land workers had lost sight of this woman for a long time and that only when she gave birth did they know that she had returned to the camp and that she is pregnant.