CHSLD inquiry: Coroner’s office had summoned two ministers to testify

The coroner’s office said it heard testimony from all the ministers it wanted to hear from during the inquiry.

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Coroner Géhane Kamel sent a total of five summons to two ministers to testify at the inquiry into the deaths in Quebec’s long-term care centers during the COVID-19 pandemic’s first wave.

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This was made clear on Tuesday by Quebec Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette.

Earlier, based on a response from the coroner’s office to an access to information request, Liberal MNA Gaétan Barrette had claimed no fewer than five ministers had been summoned, which Jolin-Barrette emphatically denied.

According to Jolin-Barrette, only two ministers were called to the witness stand: former Health Minister Danielle McCann and Seniors Minister Marguerite Blais.

“There are two ministers who were summoned; both appeared. It ends there,” Jolin-Barrette insisted.

Later, Jolin-Barrette clarified that the two ministers had received a total of five summons: McCann had received three, and Blais had received two.

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The coroner’s office also issued a statement on Tuesday clarifying the information sent to the Quebec Liberal Party.

“After verifications, the five summons (…) concern the testimonies of ministers McCann and Blais, as well as that of (former) Deputy Health Minister Yvan Gendron,” the office said.

“It is important to know that a summons is an order to appear, on a given date, before the coroner. However, if the hearing schedule changes, a new summons must be sent to the witness,” it continued.

“(Kamel) heard from all the ministerial authorities she wished to hear from as part of her extensive investigation.”

In all, Kamel heard from roughly 220 witnesses during the lengthy inquiry. She is expected to file her final report before the summer.

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