Article content continued
McCann, of course, was an easy scapegoat. A highly respected senior administrator with a profound knowledge of our health system, she appears to have done everything possible to deal with a health crisis that exposed all of the weaknesses of that system, which had been bashed to splinters by Liberal minister Gaétan Barrette. Most positions for public health professionals that existed in his master plan were never filled. It was simply not considered a priority.
But beyond the failure of a series of hapless “reforms,” there is simpler reason for the abject handling of the pandemic. Here in Quebec, unlike British Columbia, for example, the person in charge of public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, was merely an assistant deputy minister. He sat at every press conference alongside his boss, the health minister, and her boss, the premier. He was in charge of nothing. Every decision was, first and foremost, political. His B.C. counterpart, Dr. Bonnie Henry, was actually in charge of public health. When she decided to stop health workers from going to more than one site, it had an immediate beneficial effect that saved hundreds of lives. Arruda talked about such a rule, as did Legault, but it was never put into force here in Quebec, with the result that we know.