Jean Guy St-Aubin sits in an airport luggage cart March 1 after returning to Ullivik from hospital. (Photo courtesy of Brenda St-Aubin)Jeff Pelletier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A medical patient staying at a Quebec travel boarding home says he was transported to his room on a luggage cart when no wheelchairs were available.

Jean Guy St-Aubin, of Kangiqsualujjuaq, flies south on a regular basis to receive cancer treatment in the Montreal area. Like many other medical patients from Nunavik, he stays at Ullivik in Dorval, Que., which provides temporary housing to people from the region seeking health care in the south.

St-Aubin, 76, said he arrived at Ullivik March 1, hoping to relax following an exhausting radiotherapy appointment. But when he arrived, the wheelchair he thought he had reserved had been taken.

“I was kind of tired and I cannot walk, so I said, ‘Well if they can carry cargo with that, they can carry human beings,’” he said.

“There was a wheelchair that I had, I had to put it at the back of the security guard to reserve it … But this time I don’t think he did his job and somebody took it.”

This is not the first time someone hasn’t been able to get a wheelchair when needed, St-Aubin said.

He said he’s seen other people get frustrated at Ullivik staff when they ask for a wheelchair and are told there aren’t enough available.

“There’s more and more people getting old, and more and more people getting sick,” he said.

“There’s what … Five or six wheelchairs for, you know, for how many people?”

St-Aubin said for the most part, Ullivik has been good to him. He said the service is mostly good and staff are helpful.

After returning home to Kangiqsualujjuaq, he is scheduled to go back to Ullivik again this week for more treatment.

However, he wants to raise awareness that the facility needs more wheelchairs to ensure other elders and people with mobility issues who go south for care get the comfort they need.

“We’re lucky to have that, that thing for us, the people from the North. I’m not complaining,” St-Aubin said.

“If a person cannot move at all, how does he get to go to his room? I don’t want to be spoiled, I think it’s a basic need.”

A Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services spokesperson acknowledged St-Aubin’s situation in a statement to Nunatsiaq News and said Ullivik has eight wheelchairs available on a rotating schedule.

“When he wanted to sit in a wheelchair again, the wheelchairs were momentarily occupied by other users who could not move at all,” said spokesperson Kathleen Poulin about St-Aubin’s specific situation.

“Each client is invited to use the equipment that can accommodate their situation, or to indicate their need or change in condition so that Ullivik staff members can assist them adequately.”

Poulin said Ullivik is expecting four more wheelchairs to be delivered soon.

By Jeff Pelletier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 06, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Nunatsiaq News   Iqaluit, Nunavut
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