The death of Joyce Echaquan has produced outrage across Quebec. The racist circumstances surrounding her passing at a Joliette hospital have left the province reeling. Now the question is what happens next with the employees that were fired in the wake of her death.

A shocking video filmed by Echaquan in the last moments of her life shows her begging for help while the staff members at her bedside uttered insults and slurs.

That footage led to the dismissal of the nurse and the beneficiary attendant from the hospital. But their future is uncertain.

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Do they still have the right to practice?

Although they were fired from their positions at the Centre hospitalier de Lanaudière in Joliette, the nurse and attendant in question still have the right to practice their respective professions.

The professional Order of Nurses of Quebec told Narcity Québec that, "for the moment," the nurse's license has not been suspended or revoked since "the investigation process is ongoing."

"The syndicate's office management must collect the evidence before filing a complaint and bringing charges against a member before the Disciplinary Council," the Order added.

In the meantime, health care facilities are responsible for conducting "the necessary checks," such as references and history, on anyone who may be seeking a position.

Is there an Order for attendants?

No, but they do have access to the Quebec Federation of Beneficiary Attendants. President and CEO, Michel Lemelin, believes that an Order should be set up for attendants.

"If there was a semblance of a professional Order — supervision, compulsory membership — it would be different [...] especially in situations where the behaviour was completely inadequate within the framework of the profession," Lemelin said in a telephone interview with Narcity.

As for the possibility that the attendant could be disbarred, either temporarily or permanently, the CEO of the Federation, himself, is wondering what will happen. 

"It's all well and good to dismiss the attendant, to give satisfaction to the family, but that does not guarantee that this person will not be found again in the network," he said.

What's next?

An investigation will determine what will happen to the nurse.

The government of Quebec has also called for a coroner's inquiry to shed light on the situation that led to the death Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw woman and mother of seven children.

Quebec's Minister of Health Christian Dubé also made clear that he will let the coroner "take note of what happened" before officials make a decision.

Michel Lemelin said that if he were president of a professional order for attendants, he wouldn't hesitate to initiate an investigation and to disbar the employee, at least temporarily.

This article was originally published in French on Narcity Québec.

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