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Quebec won't help deaf boy hear


By Joel Goldenberg



Frank Duchoeny of Chomedey wonders why the Quebec government won’t help his eight-year-old son Ryan hear for the first time.


Quebec pays for sex change operations, but they won't pay the $30,000 or $35,000 needed for a cochlear implant that will increase Ryan's hearing capacity by 35 to 40 per cent. In the United States, the procedure costs $40.000 US.


According to the Quebec health ministry and the province's health insurance board, Ryan is too old and is proficient in sign language and "would become a non-user," according to a rejection letter sent last May.


“This is a scapegoat reason,” says Frank Duchoeny. “The true reason is that they're so far behind, they don't want to spend the money”.


“We have charges before the Quebec Human Rights Commission, we're charging Hôpital Hotel-Dieu in Quebec City, the one which does the implant, and Medicare [with discrimination].”


Duchoeny says Ryan's hearing capacity is currently very low, even with a hearing aid. “Within normal speech hearing, he doesn't hear anything above 1.5 kilohertz”.


“He's very good at lip-reading.” he said.


The New York University Medical Centre said Ryan is an excellent candidate, and a Toronto hospital is ready to do the procedure if Quebec will pay. “They won't even accept private money in Ontario”.


“After we sent Medicare the evaluation from New York, they said we do not meet the Quebec criteria. We asked them for the criteria, we meet every point of it”.


“In their criteria, they do not talk about mode of communication at all. They talk about age, that he has to be profoundly deaf, which he is; that he doesn't get enough benefits from his hearing aids, he doesn't; and that he is motivated and he'll work with it, and we have the appropriate support system in place, which we do.”


Nelligan MNA Russ Williams brought up the Duchoeny case in the National Assembly, accusing the government of heading towards “forcing families to go to the human rights commission to defend their children…. because there is discrimination as a result of your rules.”


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