MONTREAL -- The Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) is asking the CAQ government to shed light on the "destroyed" reports following the inspections that were carried out in long-term care facilities (CHSLDs) and seniors' residences during the first wave of COVID-19.

"We need to understand what happened," said leader Dominique Anglade. "Who ordered the destruction of these reports? Who took these actions?"

Anglade spoke at a news conference in front of the CHSLD Yvon Brunet in LaSalle, where two thirds of the residents were infected during the first wave, 73 of whom died.

As part of the coroner's inquest into the deaths in CHSLDs, it was revealed on Tuesday that the government carried out inspections and the care homes at the beginning of the first wave, but no written report had been produced.

Assistant deputy minister of the seniors and caregivers branch at the health ministry, Natalie Rosebush, spoke about the inspections during her testimony.

"The observations that were made during the monitoring visits were made verbally," she told the coroner, who wanted to see the details of these visits.

Anglade returned to the matter on Friday, accusing the government of wanting to hide the conclusions drawn from these inspections.

"This has very serious consequences,'' she said. "There are obviously people who voluntarily took action, who said: 'These reports must not exist.' We don't want these reports to be made public. Why not? Who decided that?"

Anglade hopes that Coroner Gehane Kamel can get some answers.

The coroner has asked to obtain the notes sent to Rosebush and former deputy minister Yvan Gendron. She has not ruled out calling the inspectors to testify.

"If none of these emails or notes exist," she said on Thursday, "I do not exclude the idea of meeting (...) people who made the visits so that they can report what they found."

The government denies having destroyed reports on the 11,512 visits carried out in 2,600 institutions.

"We want to be very clear: no report was destroyed," said Lyann St-Hilaire, spokesperson for the minister responsible for seniors, Margueritte Blais, who is on sick leave.

"The urgency of the situation would have prompted the government to prioritize verbal communications rather than writing reports," she added. "Our priority at the time was not to write inspection reports. It was to make sure that the staff had not deserted (their posts), as had happened at CHSLD Herron, and that, despite the absence of workers and attendants, our seniors were receiving the care and services they needed."

The government said it is committed to cooperating with the coroner and will provide "all information and documentation" regarding six CHSLDs that were the subject of the coroner's inquest, including Herron and Yvon Brunet.

The answer did not convince Anglade, who wants to know what happened in the residences during the first wave.

She reiterated her call for an independent public inquiry to get to the bottom of the chain of command and the decisions that were made. There are many questions that remain unanswered.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Nov. 19, 2021.