Jean-Pierre Ménard, Ad. E.
For his commitment to defending the rights of patients in the healthcare system and protecting vulnerable individuals, as well as for his actions to raise awareness of, promote and uphold the rights of citizens in the field of health, Jean-Pierre Ménard has been presented with Québec’s Prix de la justice award for 2018 by the Minister of Justice, Sonia LeBel.
For almost 40 years, Mtre Ménard has striven to ensure that the rights of users neglected by the healthcare system are recognized and upheld. Most of his work and his social commitment has involved protecting the rights of vulnerable individuals, including psychiatric patients, the elderly and people suffering from an intellectual disability, often on a pro bono basis.
Mtre Ménard was born in Péribonka in the Saguenay‒Lac-Saint-Jean region. In 1978, he graduated from the law program at Université du Québec à Montréal, joined the Québec Bar in 1980, and received a Master’s degree in law from Université de Montréal in 1983. In 1981, he began his career in the field of healthcare law, which at the time had barely developed in Québec. In 1985, he joined with Mtre Denise Martin to found the law firm Ménard, Martin, avocats. Thanks to his visionary approach, he was able to build up a team specializing in professional liability in the healthcare world and became a recognized expert in the field.
Over the course of his career, Mtre has acted in a number of cases that have led to significant improvements in the remedies available to victims, in particular in cases of medical error. He has been involved in major reviews, including the commission of inquiry into the administration and operation of the psychiatric hospital in Rivière-des-Prairies in 1985-1986. From 1986 to 2001, following a complaint about the exploitation of mentally-disabled patients at Pavillon Saint-Théophile, a private residence in Laval, the Commission des droits de la personne investigated the situation and the Human Rights Tribunal ordered the compensation of the residents. These cases received widespread media attention along with other class action suits for the mistreatment of patients, such as those pursued against Hôpital Rivière-des-Prairies from 1985 to 2000 and against Résidence Saint-Charles-Borromée from 1998 to 2012, helping to greatly advance the rights of health system users.
Over time, Mtre Ménard has broadened the scope of his involvement in the field of user rights. Through his university teaching, his testimony before parliamentary committees, his presentations at numerous professional gathering and forums of health system users and his media interviews, he has been able to use his influence to strengthen the protection available to vulnerable individuals and raise awareness among the general public and healthcare stakeholders. His intervention led, in 2002, the inclusion of the right of users to receive safe services in the Act respecting health services and social services.
He also devoted 15 years to creating an encyclopaedic website on the rights of health system users. The site, Vos droits en santé, was launched in January 2015 and provides an exhaustive review of the rights of users as well as the information needed by members of the general public to uphold their rights.
Since 2009, Mtre Ménard has made a significant contribution to the public debate about medical assistance in dying. As the chair of the committee of legal experts looking at the issue, he presented the Québec government with the series of recommendations that now form the basis of the Act respecting end-of-life care.
Mtre Jean-Pierre Ménard has received several awards for his commitment to defending the rights of the vulnerable. In 1999, he was presented with the Prix Orange by the Association des groupes d’intervention et de défense des droits en santé mentale du Québec. He was named personality of the year by the Association québécoise d’intégration sociale in 2000; in 2009 he was awarded the distinction Advocatus Emeritus by the Québec Bar and, in the same year, the Prix Reconnaissance by Université du Québec. In 2018, he received the Médaille de Saint-Yves from Pro Bono Québec, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to pro bono legal services. In 2019, the Conseil pour la protection des malades presented him with the Prix Claude-Brunet.
In the photo, from left to right: The Honourable Nicole Duval Hesler, Chief Justice of Québec and chair of the Prix de la Justice award selection committee, Mtre Jean-Pierre Ménard, winner of the 2018 Prix de la Justice award, Sonia LeBel, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Québec and the Honourable J. Michel Doyon, Lieutenant Governor of Québec.
(photo : Louise Leblanc)