Isabelle Nantais: defending the cause of seniors’ residences… and seniors themselves!
Isabelle Nantais, Groupe Maurice’s vice-president of legal affairs, was re-elected last fall to the board of the Regroupement québécois des résidences pour aînés (RQRA) [provincial association of seniors’ residences], this time as vice-chair. Following on from her previous role as secretary-treasurer, her new mandate reflects Groupe Maurice’s significant presence on the board of the RQRA, whose mission is to bring together, represent and support its members. In this interview, Isabelle Nantais tells us about her role within the organization.
Isabelle Nantais, why is being a part of the RQRA so important to you?
As one of the RQRA’s pioneers, Luc Maurice served as its chairman for many years. When he decided to step down, he asked me whether I wanted to get involved. He thought my presence on the board might be valuable because at that point, no lawyers were involved. We’re still trying to recruit people from various sectors relating to seniors’ residences. So I agreed to take part.
How long have you been with the RQRA?
I’m now beginning my fourth year. The mandates are three years long. My first mandate, when I was secretary-treasurer of the executive committee, expired in November 2019. Then I was re-elected as vice-chair for my second three-year term. However, the RQRA’s bylaws state that no one can do more than two three-year mandates in a row, in order to ensure turnover among the board members. So this is my final mandate… for the time being!
Can you explain more specifically what your RQRA role entails?
There are currently a total of 1,779 seniors’ residences across Quebec, of which 790 are RQRA members. That means we’re acting on behalf of the vast majority of the province’s residences, particularly in terms of total housing numbers (the RQRA represents some 98,000 housing units).
The RQRA’s mission is to represent its members, needless to say, but also to give voice to their views in dealings with the government, with a view to shedding light on our reality and the issues we face while also lobbying to change certain laws. We are mandated to assist our members as well. For example, we create training videos and organize regional tours each year across Quebec to provide people with information on new regulations and best practices. There’s no end to the number of regulations and laws affecting seniors’ residences, e.g. with respect to sprinklers, fire safety and health care. The RQRA plays a key role in ensuring the professionalism of our industry and in so doing, in maintaining if not improving the quality of the services offered to seniors by its members.
What do you appreciate most about your role?
I am deeply concerned about “better aging” issues and, in particular, about the importance of finding solutions designed to meet the growing needs of Quebec’s aging population. So I want to do my part. I also served on the Régie du logement’s rent review committee tasked with recommending solutions to the provincial government. This is an issue of concern, not just for seniors but also for residence owners, and it explains the RQRA’s commitment to leading this fight and rectifying the situation.
In addition, everything that has to do with care quality is very important to me. The biggest issues facing our industry are found in that area. Seniors’ residences are closely monitored whenever health care services are provided to retirees, and rightly so, given that our seniors’ health and safety are at stake. This means that multiple stakeholders are involved, not only the health and social services ministry, but also the integrated university health and social services centres (CIUSSS) and the integrated health and social services centres (CISSS). It’s all quite complex, but very important in terms of the residents’ well-being!
First-line involvement in tackling social issues affecting all Quebec seniors, which characterizes Isabelle Nantais’ work with the RQRA, is deeply important to us. This same commitment is one of the central pillars of Groupe Maurice’s philosophy and exemplifies the concept of “better aging” for us all.