MONTREAL -- As Quebec's northern communities grapple with a mental health crisis and a lack of medical services, more northern residents have flown hundreds of kilometres south each year to receive care in Montreal. Many of those patients stay in an airport hotel not suited to house sick people, where they feel discriminated against, patients told CTV News.
In 2016, the government financed the construction of a health centre and boarding home, Ullivik, to house Inuit in Montreal while they attend medical appointments or receive treatment. It isn't big enough, however, to accommodate the growing number of patients flown south, according to people who have stayed there and a government worker with knowledge of the situation.
So dozens of patients stay at the Quality Hotel, near Trudeau airport, on Cote-de-Liesse Ave. in Dorval.
CTV News spoke to seven people who stayed at the hotel: patients, their companions or family members. All said they felt they were treated differently from other patients and that their rooms were dirty or unsuitable for the sick.
The hotel has recently been renovated. Rooms are new, fresh and bright, but a section is reserved for the Inuit patients. That part of the hotel is crowded, dark and dirty according to people who have stayed there. It has not been renovated.
Fears of bed bugs
Fears of bed bugs at the hotel have also spread among patients, they say. Photos of bed bugs in one of the rooms have been posted to social media, and one patient said the pests got into her luggage and infested her apartment after she stayed at the Quality Hotel.
Recent inspections have shown that the hotel is free of bed bugs, according to the hotel manager, Nader Abdel Nour. He also disputed claims of discrimination. Hotel workers enjoy caring for the Inuit patients and housekeeping staff clean their rooms every day, as they do with all other hotel rooms, he said.
Much of the hotel has been renovated except for the rooms reserved for Inuit patients, he admitted, but only because those rooms have such a high turnover rate that they are always occupied, leaving no convenient time for renovations, he said.
Plans are being drawn up for renovations of the rooms used by the Inuit patients, Nour said. Those plans include hardwood floors, which will make them easier to clean, he added.
On a Friday in November, CTV visited the hotel. New rooms were clean and bright, and the rooms used by the Inuit patients were dark, and one such room had stains on the walls and on the carpet.
Many Inuit patients and their companions dread staying at the hotel. They fear unclean rooms and bed bugs.
Also, their complaints are not taken seriously, according to Ealasie Simigak, who lives in Kujuuaq but has stayed at the hotel while attending medical appointments in Montreal.
The hotel accommodations are inadequate, particularly for patients with serious conditions, she said.
"We have to leave our families back home because of medical appointments here, and sometimes there are severe cases chronic patients that cannot go back home because of their conditions, so the best way would be to make them feel at home as much as possible," she said.
Another Kujuuaq resident, Sarah Tukkiapik, said bed bugs had infested her apartment three times, forcing her to throw out sheets, clothing and furniture. Previously she had contracted the pests after a stay at Ullivik, she said. (That shelter now treats patients luggage in an attempt to reduce the likelihood of spreading bed bugs, according to people who have stayed there.)
Recently, signs of the bugs appeared soon after she accompanied patients to Montreal, where she had stayed at the Quality Hotel.
She won't go back to the hotel, she said. She is afraid of bed bugs and slept with the lights on during a recent visit because she feared being bit (she had heard that doing so would prevent bites). When she returned home, her granddaughter slept over at her apartment and woke up covered in bites. Bed bugs must have crawled into her luggage during her stay, Tukkiapik said.
She is not the only one.
Cecilia Kutchaka recently visited her mother in the hotel and noticed bed bugs in her room. She took pictures and posted them online. Her post was shared 87 times, and several people said in comments that they had seen the pests themselves, either at the Quality Hotel or at Ullivik. Many commenters also said they had never seen bedbugs at the Quality Hotel.
Kutchaka reported the sighting to the front desk. An exterminator inspected the hotel after her complaint, according to Nour, but didn't find any living bed bugs. Traces of the insects did turn up in one room (not the room where Kutchaka said she saw them).
Sometimes, patients overreacted and signalled false alarms, Nour said of the bed bugs.
Tensions between staff, security and patients
Patients are not allowed alcohol at the Quality Hotel, as is the case at Ullivik. At the hotel, a private security firm watches over the patients. The security guards check the patients bags, ostensibly for alcohol, but the checks bothered many of the patients CTV spoke with, who felt their privacy was being invaded.
Tensions also exist between some hotel staff members and the patients, according to Qarsauq Kajjat, who lives in Inukjuak and has stayed at the hotel multiple times while in Montreal to see doctors. (Kajjat is trans and prefers the pronoun "they.")
On a recent visit to the hotel, Kajjat said they got into a confrontation with one of the staff members, who snapped at them for holding open an elevator doorsomething that wouldn't have happened had Kajjat not been Inuit, they said.
Hotel staff members and security guards treat Inuit callously and are sometimes racist towards them, Kajjat said.
"They assume right away that every Inuit is a drunk, a druggie, and will cause trouble," Kajjat said. "When in actuality half the problems that are caused are due to miscommunication and the instant assumption that we are there just to drink and not what we're sent there to do, which is to go to the hospital."
Such treatment wasn't necessarily specific to the hotel it was pervasive in Montreal and other southern Quebec cities, Kajjat added.
Nour acknowledged clashes between patients and staff but stressed that such incidents were rare.
The hotel earns over $1 million per year providing rooms for the Inuit patients, Nour said. It's a valuable contract, and he stressed that he considered his guests' satisfaction including the patients vital.
Hotel 'not the best place' for patients
The government agency that oversees the health network in Nunavik admitted that the hotel is not the best place for patients.
Fabien Pernet, assistant to the executive director of the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS), said most patients would prefer to stay at Ullivik, which is more suitable for them.
But Ullivik has had problems of its own. In 2017, the Nunatsiaq News, an outlet that covers Quebec's northern communities, reported on numerous cases of violence and sexual violence at Ullivik. That same year, a truck struck one Inuk woman, killing her, in the Ullivik parking lot, after she was turned away from the shelter because she was inebriated.
Rather than flying patients south, building more shelters or renting hotel rooms for them, access to healthcare in Nunavik should be improved, Pernet argued.
Nunavik is almost 550,000 square kilometres. It covers the northern third of the province of Quebec. Fourteen villages are spread along its vast northern shore.
The region has two health centres, and only a few dozen hospital beds. Health resources are scant and insufficient to provide patients with anything more than basic checkups and care. Patients who need to see a specialist, or receive any more serious care, must fly south.
A mental health crisis in the region has also contributed to a spike in the number of suicide attempts in the North, adding to the number of patients being airlifted south which doubled in 2018, Pernet said. The average life expectancy in Nunavik is almost 20 years lower than the rest of Quebec, he added.
As a consequence, Ullivik is virtually always full, and the rooms on the first floor of the Quality Hotel the section used by the Inuit patients are always full, too.
Pernet said patients' allegations of discrimination at the Quality Hotel were concerning.
"Of course, there will be discussions regarding the contract we have with the hotel (to see if it) is the perfect solution or if there should be another solution found," he said.
Improved northern healthcare would reduce the need for a trip south, he added. The NRBHSS is asking the provincial government to recognize the need for a hospital in Nunavik, and discussions are progressing, he said.
"We're working with the ministry to have this need recognized to make sure that in these next coming years, we will be able to start the construction of such a regional hospital," he said.
"Having those services available in Nunavik, having more exams available, more specialists available, that would for sure limit the amount of travel that patients from Nunavik would have to do to Montreal."
- We caught bedbugs from traveling and then the nightmare began - The Points Guy - December 23rd, 2019
- Press Release: Experts Warns By Pest Encounters During This Thanks Giving Season with Fast Pest Control Australia - PRWire - December 8th, 2019
- Protecting your home and family: The top 10 myths of bed bugs - Richland Source - November 24th, 2019
- Can Bed Bugs Stand the Heat? - PCT - PCT Magazine - November 24th, 2019
- East Islip home has massive hive with 120,000 bees - Newsday - November 20th, 2019
- How Much Do Bed Bug Exterminators Cost? (A Simple Guide ... - November 8th, 2019
- Can Bed Bugs Live In Wood Furniture and How to Remove Them ... - October 14th, 2019
- The 10 Best Bed Bug Exterminators Near Me (with Free ... - October 14th, 2019
- How to Deal with Bed Bugs at Your Rental Property - October 13th, 2019
- Bed bugs | UMN Extension - October 13th, 2019
- Bedbugs: Bite Treatment, Signs, Pictures & Identification - October 6th, 2019
- Apartment Bed Bugs | RPA Tenant Rights Blog - October 4th, 2019
- Preparing Your House for Bedbug Treatments | NC State ... - October 2nd, 2019
- The 10 Best Exterminators Near Me (with Free Estimates) - September 24th, 2019
- What to Do Before And After The Exterminator Comes for Bedbugs - September 10th, 2019
- Will an Exterminator Get Rid of Bed Bugs? How to Get Rid ... - September 10th, 2019
- Bed Bug Exterminator NYC | Extermination Treatment ... - May 23rd, 2019
- Bed Bugs Toronto - Pestend Affordable Pest Exterminator - May 13th, 2019
- Bed Bugs Treatment - May 12th, 2019
- Bed bug - Wikipedia - May 2nd, 2019
- Buffalo Bed Bug PCP | Professional Pest Control Buffalo ... - April 30th, 2019
- Bedbug Exterminator | Bed Bug Control | Bed Bug Infestation - April 20th, 2019
- Exterminator Bug Services |authorSTREAM - April 14th, 2019
- Milwaukee Bed Bug Exterminator | Pest Control Service | A ... - March 14th, 2019
- 6 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Bed Bugs [Incl. Recipes] - March 12th, 2019
- #1 Bed Bug Exterminator & Pest Control in Houston Texas ... - March 6th, 2019
- How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs (COMPLETE GUIDE) - February 16th, 2019
- Metro Detroit & Atlanta Bed Bugs - Metro Detroit Exterminator - February 10th, 2019
- How to Check for Bed Bugs: Discover where they hide and ... - February 10th, 2019
- Chicago IL Exterminator, Pest Control, Termite Inspections - February 9th, 2019
- How much does it cost to get rid of bed bugs in Toronto? - February 2nd, 2019
- Are Bed Bugs in the Walls? | Bed Bug Exterminator NYC | 24 ... - February 2nd, 2019
- Can Dogs Carry Bed Bugs? | Bed Bug Exterminator NYC | 24/7 ... - January 31st, 2019
- Affordable Bed Bug Exterminators: Pest Control Bed Bugs - January 24th, 2019
- Bed Bugs - January 24th, 2019
- What Do Bed Bugs Look Like (53 PICTURES OF BED BUGS) - January 24th, 2019
- Bed Bugs Guide - How to Kill Bed Bugs - January 10th, 2019
- Alpha Bed Bug Exterminator NYC - Manhattan | Treatment ... - January 4th, 2019
- Bed bug control & treatment - Expert exterminator for bed ... - January 4th, 2019
- Bed Bugs | Pest Control and Bug Exterminator Blog - November 21st, 2018
- Bed Bugs: How to Identify Bedbugs and How to Get ... - WebMD - October 3rd, 2018
- Bed Bug Exterminator NYC Testimonial - Watch Now - Bed Bug Exterminator NYC - September 27th, 2018
- Bed Bugs Exterminator Crew | Call 888-329-7794 - September 8th, 2018
- 2018 Average Bed Bug Exterminator Cost (with Price Factors) - July 6th, 2018
- Bed bug control techniques - Wikipedia - May 19th, 2018
- Heat Pro | Denver, Co Bed Bug Exterminator, Heat Treatment ... - May 2nd, 2018
- Pest Control | Bed Bug Exterminator Iowa City, Cedar ... - April 1st, 2018
- Bed Bug Facts & Pest Information: How Do You Get Bed Bugs? - March 22nd, 2018
- Bed Bug Extermination Cost: Inspection and Treatment Costs - March 18th, 2018
- Pest Control Exterminators Bed Bugs Roaches Termites - December 30th, 2017
- Bed Bug Exterminator Indianapolis - The Bed Bug Co. - December 27th, 2017
- The Best Bed Bugs Exterminator in Queens, NY - November 25th, 2017
- Bed bugs, drug paraphernalia greet 6th graders at Estes Park YMCA - The Denver Channel - September 2nd, 2017
- Guaranteed Bed Bug Exterminator in Brooklyn, NYC ... - September 2nd, 2017
- College students told to continue living in apartment with bedbugs - WRAL.com - September 1st, 2017
- Royster deals with found bed bug - Chanute Tribune - September 1st, 2017
- One couple's bedbug saga: exactly what a nightmare would be - San Francisco Chronicle - September 1st, 2017
- Increase in bed bug problems - The News Center - August 28th, 2017
- The most bed bug-infested cities in the US named - Inquirer.net - August 28th, 2017
- New California law aims to stop spread of bedbugs - San Francisco ... - San Francisco Chronicle - August 27th, 2017
- Cleveland Tops Terminix's Newest 'Top 20 Bed Bug Cities' List - PCT Magazine - August 26th, 2017
- Confirmed case of bed bugs at Parma Senior High School - News 5 ... - News 5 Cleveland - August 25th, 2017
- Cleveland tenants fight bed bug infestation, city ranked in top 15 for bed bug issues - News 5 Cleveland - August 24th, 2017
- An Invention Eliminates Bed Bug Bites even the Insects Migrate among Apartments - Digital Journal - August 23rd, 2017
- Reader takes issue with local exterminator - Circleville Herald - August 23rd, 2017
- Put Your Foot Down With Toronto Roach Removal - TG Daily (blog) - August 21st, 2017
- Bed bugs make unwelcome return to Southern California - The San Gabriel Valley Tribune - August 17th, 2017
- EZ Bed Bug Exterminator in Cincinnati Vows to End Bugs with New Service - Digital Journal - August 12th, 2017
- Aurora man says new mattress was delivered with bed bugs - The Denver Channel - August 12th, 2017
- EZ Bed Bug Exterminator in Cincinnati Vows to End Bugs with New Service - Press Release Rocket (press release) - August 12th, 2017
- Bed bugs that proliferate - The Sherbrooke Times - August 9th, 2017
- Bed Bugs Exterminator & Bed Bugs ... - - RTC Pest Control - August 9th, 2017
- 'Boy, they itch like crazy': Bedbugs bother Whitehorse visitors and residents - CBC.ca - August 7th, 2017
- Bed bugs pose particularly difficult problem in Central Illinois - Illinois News Network - July 31st, 2017
- Bedbugs make an unwelcome comeback in Southern California - Press-Enterprise - July 31st, 2017
- Apartment bed bug infestation persists after treatments - FOX31 Denver - July 31st, 2017
- Bed Bugs Be Gone: Rutgers Gets Nod for Fighting Pests - New ... - TAPinto.net - July 13th, 2017
- Apartment near Northlake infested with bed bugs, management slow to react - FOX 46 Charlotte - July 12th, 2017
- The building management used me as bedbug 'bait': suit - New York Post - July 8th, 2017
- Dispatchers relocated as Honolulu police deal with bed bugs | KHON2 - KHON2 - July 8th, 2017