Former Quebec health minister Jean Rochon dies at 83
Late-Quebec minister Jean Rochon announced a 30-cent hike in the province’s minimum wage, Wednesday May 1, 2002 , raising the hourly salary to $7.30 to fight poverty and help stimulate the economy, during a news conference at the legislature in Quebec City. Roger Lecours, deputy Labour minister, left, looks on. (CP PHOTO/Jacques Boissinot)
MONTREAL -- Former Health Minister Jean Rochon, who was responsible for the ambulatory shift and the Tobacco Act, has died at the age of 83.
Premier François Legault extended his thoughts for Rochon's family on Twitter Tuesday morning, after learning of the news of the former PQ minister's death.
"What sad news. He was a kind and brilliant man," Legault said.
Born in Montreal in 1938, Jean Rochon obtained a law degree in 1961 and a medical degree in 1966. He went on to earn a master's degree in public health in 1968 and a doctorate in public health from Harvard University in 1973.
Rochon was first elected as a Parti Québécois MNA in Charlesbourg in 1994. He headed several ministries throughout his career, including Health and Social Services in the Parizeau and Bouchard cabinets in 1994-1998, as well as Employment and Social Solidarity.
He left political life in 2003.
His career included work on the ambulatory shift in health care delivery, i.e. the idea of avoiding hospital stays in favour of services at home or in CLSCs, for example.
He also introduced groundbreaking legislation such as the Smoking in Public Places Act, which was passed in 1998, and the Pharmacare Act, which came into effect in 1996.
The opposition parties, like Legault, mourned Rochon's death this morning.
"My condolences to the family and loved ones of Mr. Jean Rochon, former MNA and Minister of Health," Liberal leader Dominique Anglade wrote on Twitter, describing the former minister as a "passionate Quebecer."
Québec Solidaire parliamentary leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois called him a "man of distinction in Quebec politics" and said, "We owe him the INSPQ [National Institute of Public Health] and the tobacco law. All my condolences to the family and the loved ones of Jean Rochon."
"This great man left his mark on the history of Quebec by daring to attack the tobacco lobby and for having initiated the decentralization of the health-care system," wrote Parti Québécois leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.
"Rochon had a significant impact on the lives of Quebecers, helping to pass the tobacco law and create the INSPQ," said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, calling him a "proud Montrealer."
Following his political career, Jean Rochon served as an associate consultant to the INSPQ and chaired the advisory board of the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation.
Until 2015, he was also an associate professor at the Université de Montréal, where he received an honorary doctorate. He was also professor emeritus at the Université de Laval where he began his career in 1970.
Rochon received many honours in his lifetime. He received the Canadian Public Health Association's highest award, the R.D. Defries Award, in 1994. A few years earlier, the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium awarded him an honorary doctorate.
In 2015, he was awarded the Ordre national du Québec and the Distinction santé durable award from the Association de santé publique du Québec.
-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Oct. 19, 2021.