Updates from February, 2013 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 17:55 on 2013/02/02 Permalink | Reply  

    This is well off-island so I haven’t followed the saga of the quarry collapse in L’Épiphanie, but the discovery of one of the two bodies is making news today. Three people were involved in the collapse – one man survived and a man and a woman were lost as the ground gave way and their vehicles plunged 100 meters. Rescue workers say they will continue seeking the woman’s body unless the ground becomes too unstable again.

    Later: a report says a second body has been found.

  • Kate 17:48 on 2013/02/02 Permalink | Reply  

    The city has sent out its pothole crew to fix the many holes created by fluctuating temperatures.

    • Doobish 15:37 on 2013/02/03 Permalink

      Not to mention shit quality roads to begin with.

  • Kate 12:16 on 2013/02/02 Permalink | Reply  

    Pauline Marois says Ottawa has agreed to collaborate with Quebec to push forward on the Champlain Bridge dossier. Traditionally, the federal government has gone it alone on the bridges, which are their domain.

    Now if only Montreal can get them to deliver a bridge with sensible provisions for public transit…

    • Clément 16:44 on 2013/02/02 Permalink

      Let’s make that sensible provisions for alternative modes of transport. Public transit + cycling and walking year-round.

    • Bert 17:36 on 2013/02/02 Permalink

      Clément, soyons sérieux. There is little use for a bicycle / pedestrian lane on the new (or old) Champlain. There is at least 2KM between the 132/10 intersections to Nuns Island. How many people will actually use that day-in day-out, much less in winter?

      Public transit, yes. Make some sort of system that doesn’t get shut down when there is too much wind (which currently does not affect the J-C, why should it affect the Champlain?)

    • Chris 19:37 on 2013/02/02 Permalink

      Bert, 2 km is not far on bike…

    • Ant6n 20:16 on 2013/02/02 Permalink

      Plenty of people use the Champlain to bicycle – despite the hassle having to get up there. Plus, the bicycle lane doesn’t need much space, or require much strength.

    • Philippe 20:21 on 2013/02/02 Permalink

      There isn’t a bike lane on the Champlain Bridge. Don’t you mean the estacade? I’m assuming the estacade isn’t going to be demolished regardless of how plans for the new Champlain are laid.

    • SN86 21:11 on 2013/02/02 Permalink

      Ant6n might be referring to the Jacques-Cartier bridge path. A path on the new bridge would be very useful and it will most likely increase commuters by bicycle to and from downtown, at least from Brossard on nice days. Currently, the commute by bicycle from Brossard to downtown has many obstacles and is disjointed with the many paths you ave to take.

    • Ant6n 21:42 on 2013/02/02 Permalink

      Sorry, yes, I mean’t the Jaques-Cartier, which is a pain to use, but still well-frequented.

    • Daisy 21:51 on 2013/02/02 Permalink

      I use the ice bridge (estacade) in the summer but it’s super annoying to be delayed 30+ minutes every time there’s a ship. Probably more cyclists would use the Champlain if there were no delays.

    • Philippe 22:13 on 2013/02/02 Permalink

      Even without the delays caused by ships going through the St-Lambert locks, the detour to the Victoria bridge to cross the seaway, by itself, is probably sufficient to discourage potential bike commutes to Brossard. I don’t know if it makes economical sense to include a complete bike path on the new Champlain bridge given the ice bridge, but I think it would make sense to have at least a partial one going over the seaway, accessible by a ramp or even stairs.

    • Blork 22:34 on 2013/02/02 Permalink

      Many people would use a bicycle path on the new Champlain bridge. Very few would walk it, (unlike the Jacques Cartier, which is used by a lot of pedestrians). Bicycle lanes should be non-negotiable. But they needn’t expend money and effort on pedestrian paths.

    • Clément 23:12 on 2013/02/02 Permalink

      Why is it that so many people always expect bike paths and public transit to be financially neutral (not cost anything to the taxpayer), yet have absolutely no problem having all the taxpayers (even the cyclist taxpayers, the pedestrian taxpayers and the transit user taxpayers) pay for roads used only by motorists?

    • Faiz Imam 00:11 on 2013/02/03 Permalink

      Umm, did you all miss the news last week?

      ““The new bridge will include a dedicated bicycle lane,” Transport Canada spokesperson Kelly James told The Gazette.

      “This consideration forms part of the mandate given to our consultants responsible for preliminary engineering design.”

      The bridge was previously confirmed to have 2 bus lanes, which may be converted into rail lines at any point.

      In addition, despite being twice as large(or potentially double decked) the new bridge will have the same number of car lanes as the old one so all in all the fundamentals of the project seem to be extremely well thought out.

      The current bridge has 6 lanes that are narrow and with no extra space, while the new one has:

      -6 lanes of car traffic
      -2 emergency shoulders(which should decrease congestion times caused by accidents and mechanical failures)
      -All lanes will be wider to meet national standards, which should increase speeds and reduce accidents.
      -2 bus lanes
      -plus additional room for pedestrian and bike traffic (hopefully separated lanes for both) This might end with a ile st-helene style side ramp on the Brossard side, since an existing path runs parallel to highway 132 below the bridge).

      Its possible, though I would be pleasantly shocked, that they create a path 2km further in till Boul Taschereau’s much more trafficked and useful bike path, adjacent to Terminus Panama.

    • Ant6n 00:42 on 2013/02/03 Permalink

      Yeah well every week plans change. Last week’s plan didn’t include consulting with Quebec, did it?

  • Kate 12:14 on 2013/02/02 Permalink | Reply  

    The various official groundhogs are in disagreement on winter: Canada’s Wiarton Willie sees an early spring, but Quebec’s Fred says it’s six more weeks of winter.

    I’m putting my money on Fred.

  • Kate 11:59 on 2013/02/02 Permalink | Reply  

    Couple of items on the construction corruption front:

    Montreal’s habit of including a reserve for unexpected costs in its construction contracts has pretty much invited contractors to find an excuse to charge overruns, according to Michel Lalonde at the Charbonneau commission.

    Revenu Québec is cracking down on Tony Accurso and his alleged tax-avoidant bookkeeping methods.

  • Kate 11:46 on 2013/02/02 Permalink | Reply  

    The MUHC is in a spat with the Quebec government over an incident in 2011 in which a woman from Kuwait came to Montreal and paid $200,000 for a heart operation at the Royal Vic that she could supposedly not get anywhere else. The MUHC spokesman makes the shaky claim this was done on compassionate grounds; the health minister finds it unacceptable although his government was not in power in December 2011 when it happened, and the MUHC says they squared it with Yves Bolduc, health minister at the time.

    I’m seeing contradictory stuff about how common this kind of thing is here. On CBC radio yesterday I heard a statement (from someone official but I didn’t take notes) that this was a one-off, done at the specific request of the Kuwaiti government and not meant to be an ongoing business proposition by the MUHC. But that item says “M. Fahey avance aussi que ce type d’opérations sont menées de manière plus ou moins régulière dans les centres hospitaliers du Québec et du Canada, toujours sur la base de la compassion” and the Gazette today has a story saying the government of Kuwait signed a contract with the MUHC to arrange for this kind of medical tourism over five years, but has uncovered some stunning irregularities in the whole deal. This story is a must-read.

    An MUHC spokesman is quoted as saying “the staff worked on their own time and the beds the patient occupied were closed for budgetary reasons” – maybe he thinks this sounds more reassuring than it is. Doctors and nurses (presumably paid out of the fee?) do not have an inexhaustible store of workable hours, and if they’re motivated to work harder for this kind of gig, it does not bode well for us.

    The bottom line here is that if the MUHC prioritizes selling services to wealthy foreigners, that leaves less for Quebec citizens whose taxes sustain the system. It’s being investigated.

    • Matthew 13:34 on 2013/02/02 Permalink

      “MUHC prioritizes selling services to wealthy foreigners, that leaves less for Quebec citizens whose taxes sustain the system. It’s being investigated.”

      Hold on. If the actual cost of the surgery was less than $200,000 to the MUHC, doesn’t that mean the surgery put more money into a system that is lacking sufficient funds for its citizens?

      In the same light, two-tiered healthcare (just like two-tiered education) means everyone pays for the public, but not everyone necessarily uses it = only more funds per user for the public system. The best healthcare systems in the world are those that are two-tiered.

    • David Tighe 14:33 on 2013/02/02 Permalink

      The operation would have required marginal expenditure on doctors and support staff salaries etc as well as utilities and so on. These could in theory have been used to provide local services. However, since the operating theatre would have been closed anyway through lack of funds, starting it up would not have consumed resources usable elsewhere. Furthermore, since the lack of places to operate normally prevents doctors from working as much as they could, the surgeons fees did not cost us anything. He would not have been working otherwise. Thus Québec must have made a healthy profit from the operation which could in theory be used to finance other operations here. Given that the system here is profoundly dysfunctional, with some resources stretched to the maximum, others grossly underused, a policy of selectively treating foreign patients at market prices but at less than marginal cost seems to me to be an excellent idea

    • steph 14:54 on 2013/02/02 Permalink

      The problem is that our doctor/nurse/bed supply doesn’t even keep up with the public demand. Pricing the procedure at $200,000 probably only involves short term profits, there’s a lot more at stake then this quarters budget.

    • Kate 16:05 on 2013/02/02 Permalink

      Hold on. If the actual cost of the surgery was less than $200,000 to the MUHC, doesn’t that mean the surgery put more money into a system that is lacking sufficient funds for its citizens?

      In the same light, two-tiered healthcare (just like two-tiered education) means everyone pays for the public, but not everyone necessarily uses it = only more funds per user for the public system. The best healthcare systems in the world are those that are two-tiered.

      There is a limit to the amount of health care service that can be provided.

      If priority is given to people who can pay, those who cannot pay will have to wait and be seen when time can be spared from the business side of the service, which may be never.

    • Ant6n 20:20 on 2013/02/02 Permalink

      Two-tiered any system is bad – everybody who makes the decisions and affects public opinion will be in the private one, and the public one will be left to rot. Eventually the people in the private system will want to get out of paying for the public one and then the public one will rot even more (this happens in Germany, where people who are _above_ a certain threshold when paying for the progressive public system can opt out all the way, effectively cutting off the higher tax brackets…)

    • David Tighe 10:51 on 2013/02/03 Permalink

      I agree that two-tiered systems are bad in that they deprive the public system of resources. For example the UK. They however have no real human resource problems as they recruit nurses and doctors from many countries. However the situation in Québec is rather weird in that we an enormous unsatisfied demand and at the same time, grossly under-used resources on the one hand and massive human resources shortages on the other. In this context, which is a monument to lousy management, they may as well, like the universities in recruiting foreign students, milk the system for revenue which in turn could be invested in reducing bottlenecks. Ideally, the procedure could tend towards an optimal use of resources. In practise, doctors will probably get so hooked on this foreign clientele that it ignore us.

    • Kevin 08:48 on 2013/02/04 Permalink

      Quebec’s healthcare system is messed up in so many ways.
      We could start by getting rid of PREMs (sp?) and have the Ministry stop assuming all doctors work full-time.

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