Public unaware of services available to the incapacitated

By Robert Frank

Proportionately fewer members of Laval’s English-speaking community benefit from the services of the Quebec public curator, according to figures provided to The Suburban.

Public curator Normand Jutras visited Laval last week to meet some of the 1,499 people here whose interests his department looks out for.

According to figures provide by his office, only 51 of those Laval residents are English-speakers.

Nine Laval residents (2.5%) are directly under the department’s oversight and it supervises another 44 (9.1%) who are under private care.

Jutras’ spokeswoman Aline Charest emphasized that these figures might under-represent her department’s service to the English community, though, because they only reflect the number of people with whom it corresponds in English.

“We talk about how the population is aging, but we’re already there,” Jutras observed. “By 2031, a quarter of Quebecers will be over 65.”

The 2011 census showed Laval’s English community is aging even more rapidly. Compounding the problem, Laval seniors whose children have fled to Ontario or elsewhere to find work don’t have the same family support network as their French counterparts.

“We take care of people who are unable to do so for themselves, their belongings or both,” he explained. “We protect them, look out for their best interest and stand up for their rights.”

If you think that most of Jutras’ clientele are mostly Alzheimers victims you’re wrong. Only 17 per cent of those whom he helps in Laval suffer from degernative illnesses. Most of his charges are surprisingly young.

“Nearly half (43%) are intellectually handicapped,” he recounted, “followed by those who suffer mental illness (29%). “

A significant minority (9%) are head-trauma victims who can no longer take care of themselves, following an accident.

“Our clientele increases by 2.2 per cent each year,” Jutras said, “but our budget was capped in 2011. So far, we’ve succeeded in keeping our head above water. But I just met Family Minister Francine Charbonneau to discuss the future of this program.”

“If the public curator’s budget hasn’t budged, it’s because we have to be careful about how we manage public finances,” Charbonneau’s spokeswoman Lindsay Jacques told The Suburban.

Jacques suggested that there is room to cut without reducing services.

“The public curator budget went from $34 million in 2005 to $42 million for 2014-2015,” Jacques noted, and its staff increased from 200 employees in 1997 to more than 600.”

Jutras concluded by urging Laval residents to sign a mandate specifying what they want done if they become incapacitiated, including who should take care of them and their belongings.

“It’s always better if we know what your wishes are,” he said. “36% of adult Quebecers already have signed a mandate. It’s easy. You don’t have to visit a notary. There are forms that you can use on our web site.

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