Nunavik Aboriginal people accuse Québec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette of prejudicing them by suggesting that parents in the Far North can be expelled from the ambulance plane carrying their children because of their problems addiction to drugs or alcohol.
An audio recording obtained by Le Devoir and the CBC allows Minister Barrette to say in English that within six months there will be at least one case of a person who will not be admitted to the plane. because anyone who is agitated, drugged or under the influence of anything will not be allowed to board.
The minister added that such cases happen all the time.
This recording was made two weeks ago when Minister Barrette was taking a walk in Brossard, on the South Shore of Montreal.
The mayor of Kuujjuaq in Nunavik, Tunu Napartuk, said he was deeply shocked and disappointed by such comments, which, in his opinion, show that Gaétan Barrette does not know the people of the North.
Mayor Napartuk acknowledges that Nunavik has challenges, but points out that the minister’s comments do not help the situation and reinforce stereotypes.
Minister Barrette’s press secretary replied by e-mail that the minister did not deny the conversation with a citizen about the issues of aeromedical evacuations, but that he denies having made direct reference to an aboriginal community.