50 years ago the network of CLSCs in Quebec was created
Meeting crying needs
People had so many problems that, in the end, there was no way to even determine which problem was more important. In Saint-Jacques, they thought that the health problem was the most important.
On July 19, 1971, Quebec Minister of Social Affairs Claude Castonguay announced that he intended as a priority to set up 25 local community service centers (CLSCs) throughout the province.
Eight of these CLSCs will be created in Montreal, two in Quebec and 15 in the regions of Quebec.
The common point of the locations chosen: the neighborhoods or communities they will serve lack health or social resources.
On October 13, 1970, host Wilfrid Lemoine of the show Format 30, questioned Doctor Henri Bellemare, who was at the time a candidate in the municipal elections in Montreal for the Party of Political Action (FRAP).
The doctor particularly recalls the deplorable state of the health and welfare situation in the Montreal neighborhoods of Saint-Jacques and Pointe-Saint-Charles.
A mobilization of the population of these neighborhoods led to the foundation of popular multidisciplinary clinics which partially inspired the creation of CLSCs.
The great expectations of the Hullois …
On June 20, 1974, people gathered in Hull to celebrate the opening of the CLSC in the city of the Outaouais.
We take the opportunity at Radio-Canada to ask participants in the party what they hope for from a CLSC.
The excerpt from this filming sequence shows us vast and varied expectations that go beyond health issues.
Some Hullois are also questioned about what they think of the hostility that physicians show towards CLSCs.
It should be remembered that at the time, several doctors were opposed to the opening of CLSCs and even refused to practice there.
The opinion of the people of Hull reflects quite faithfully that of the population of Quebec in general: disappointment mixed with the hope that the youngest doctors will have a mentality more favorable to community philosophy than their elders.
… and what the CLSCs offer
When the CLSC de Hull opened, its first director was a 25-year-old woman who later enjoyed an exceptional career.
This is Pauline Marois. She would later become minister in several governments of the Parti Québécois and then Premier of Quebec from September 2012 to April 2014.
In another extract of a filming sequence recorded during the opening party of the CLSC de Hull, Pauline Marois explains the multiple aspects of the mandate of the establishment she heads.
Pauline Marois describes the CLSC as a place of reference for almost anything regarding medical and social issues. You can come to see a doctor as well as ask questions about obtaining a health insurance or social insurance card.
The director of the CLSC is particularly proud that a doctor has agreed to come and work in her establishment… even if it is only one day a week. She also refuses to see the polyclinics created by certain doctors as a business bypassing the CLSCs. Rather, she sees them as a complementary approach.
At the same time, she refutes the arguments put forward by certain doctors on the supposedly intrusive aspect of the CLSCs in their work. Doctors, confirms Pauline Marois, will not sweep the floors either. Nor will they be dealing with issues that should be dealt with by social workers.
Take action to provide home care
In 2005, the CLSCs are 30 years old. In the west of the island of Montreal, the population served by the CLSC René-Cassin comprises 27% of people aged 65 and over. This CLSC therefore decided 10 years ago to take the turn in home care to relieve both the sick and their caregivers.
Journalist Catherine Kovacs went to see how this shift is going.
His report presented to News March 5, 2005 shows us patients satisfied with the care provided by the staff of the CLSC at home. As for family caregivers, home care is proving to be a much appreciated respite to lighten a task that is both very demanding and constant.
The initiative of the CLSC René-Cassin is perceived very positively and has become a focal point of researchers in gerontology such as Jean-Pierre Lavoie, of the University of Montreal, who also affirms that the CLSCs will have to offer more and more home services.
Quebec is indeed an aging society with multiple needs. In addition, adds Catherine Kovacs, the strategy of the Government of Quebec, then focused on hospitals, did not meet all needs.
In 2021, Quebec has a network of CLSCs in all corners of the province.