Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube has called the family of former premier Robert Bourassa's widow to apologize for the suffering the family said she needlessly went through in her final days.

Andree Simard died in November at St. Mary's Hospital, and her family said the medical team refused to give her adequate pain relief, causing deep distress.

She was 90 years old and ended up in St. Mary's emergency room where the family says she contracted COVID-19.

After a few days in intensive care, she was transferred to a room where her condition quickly worsened.

The family says they kept asking for sedation to keep her pain-free, but that they were repeatedly refused. They said staff told the family that sedation only happens in the palliative care ward and that Simard couldn't be transferred there because she had COVID-19.

They said it was only after an attending physician found out who she was that they finally increased her sedation levels significantly.

She died a few hours later.

Simard's daughter Michelle Bourassa said it's not right that families have to fight for a peaceful end for their loved ones if they aren't on the right ward at the hospital.

"In addition to losing the love of my life, I had to fight like a pitbull, which is not in my nature, but it was enough suffering," said daughter Michelle Bourassa.

In a statement, the hospital said it has launched an internal investigation.

“We take this situation very seriously as the information reported by the family does not reflect the experience we wish to offer our patients,” said health board (CIUSSS-OIM) spokesperson Helen Bergeron-Gamache.

Bourassa said minister Dube called her and apologized for what happened to her and she told the minister that it's important things change so others don't suffer the way her mother did.