MONTREAL -- Two months after the death of Joyce Echaquan, Lanaudiere Integrated Health and Social Services Centre (CISSS) CEO Daniel Castonguay was dismissed amid circumstances that shocked Quebec.

The Legault government announced this change without much fanfare on Wednesday night in a statement containing a series of nominations for the council of ministers.

Castonguay will be temporarily replaced by Caroline Barbir, the former general director of Lanaudière’s regional hospital centre who became president and CEO of the Sainte-Justine university hospital centre in 2018. She will be doing both jobs, according to the Health ministry.

The Legault government made this decision as it had become obvious that the bond of trust between the Indigenous community and the direction of the Lanaudière CISSS was broken, according to information obtained by the Canadian Press.

As such, the council of ministers endorsed the decision earlier on Wednesday after having seen the report from Lise Verreault, the observer appointed in mid-November to investigate allegations of racism against Indigenous people who came to the Joliette Hospital for medical care.

Her observations were unequivocal: at this point it was impossible to reestablish bridges between the Indigenous community of Manawan, where Joyce Echaquan came from, and the direction for the Lanaudière CISSS, said a source close to the conversation under the condition of anonymity.

The decision met with the unanimous approval of the CISSS’s administrative council, according to this same source.

On Sept. 28, Joyce Echaquan filmed herself in a hospital bed in the moments before her death. In a video that was widely shared on social media, viewers could hear employees insult the patient who was saying she was in pain.

The nurse and attendant heard on the video were promptly fired.

With this most recent nomination, the Legault government will doubtlessly look to demonstrate its willingness to build better relations with Indigenous communities.

“Mme Barbir’s roadmap is impressive and testifies to her long experience as a high-level manager in health and social services,” underlined Minister of Health and Social Services Christian Dubé.

“She will know how to re-establish trust with Indigenous communities and do justice to this establishment’s most important cases, along with her team and her partners,” Dubé said in a written statement.

As for her predecessor, Daniel Castonguay, who has acted as director and CEO of the CISSS since March 2015, he was transferred elsewhere in the health-care system due to the experience he gained during the COVID-19 pandemic, which could be very useful in the next 18 months (a length of time that matches the mandate he had left).

He will be “lending a hand to ministry teams.”

“His first mandate will be to accompany the teams from the Ministry of Health and Social Services in order to help prepare for a COVID-19 vaccination campaign across Quebec,” said Dubé.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.