Rousselle slams Péquistes’ cut to low-income seniors’ housing

By Robert Frank

Vimont’s elected representative in Quebec City crossed swords with the province’s Minister of Municipal Affairs, March 21, over cuts to a program that helps keep seniors at home, rather than move to assisted living.

“The program lets low-income seniors renovate their house or apartment to enable them to remain there as long as possible in the best conditions,” Jean Rousselle told fellow legislators.

“I have in my hand a Société d’habitation du Québec (SHQ) directive advising that the program will be axed, on the backs of those over 65,” he told Quebec legislators, “secretly cutting $3.6 million per year.”

“My question is clear: Why is the government still cutting on the backs of the most vulnerable?”

“We have increased the [social housing] budget by $56 million,” replied the minister, Sylvain Gaudreault. “We have announced and are about to fulfill having 3,000 housing units per year for the next five years.”

“Mr. Speaker, the directive doesn’t talk about investment,” retorted Rousselle. “It talks about cuts. Mayors are concerned about this problem. Living in fear and uncertainty is the last thing that they want for our seniors.”

“Mr. Minister, can you halt the cuts?” he asked, calling for the government to conduct and impact study before proceeding.

Gaudreault countered that the government has increased the social housing budget in line with Premier Pauline Marois’ promise during the last election campaign.

“Also, with the head of the SHQ, we announced that a number of programs would end next year, together with a review of SHQ programs,” Gaudreault said. “I can assure the member that this legislature and all housing sector stakeholders will be advised in due course.”

Rousselle’s fellow Liberal legislator Marguerite Blais then rose to remind the minister that he is “cutting a program that helps low-income people aged 65 and over to make small changes to their homes so as to continue to live there safely.”

“While the Minister of Health is telling everyone, everywhere, that he wants to help them remain in their homes, his colleague in housing is cutting the program that helps them do so. This, Mr. Speaker, is inconsistent,” she suggested.

“There are programs that are reaching their end, that will soon be outdated and we will abandon,” Gaudreault responded. “That’s clear.”

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