Questions proposed by citizens

Although the Fonds de recherche du Québec publishes this content, they are not the authors.


Here are questions submitted by citizens for the ENGAGE competition of the FRQ.

All questions have been posted in the French version of this page and all English version are now  available.

We encourage the research community to consult regularly the questions and form a duo with a citizen to propose a research projet of interest for both of you! Are you interested in contacting the citizen that proposed the question? Just write us at:


Discrimination, inclusion, immigration

In Québec, how do museums and cultural institutions promote and pass on the heritage of French-speaking African and Afrodescendant communities, while at the same time raising public awareness of the fight against racism?

In Québec, there are a number of initiatives (museums, institutes, community centers, galleries, etc.) aimed at transmitting the heritage of French-speaking African and Afrodescendant communities.
With this research, I hope to document their missions and objectives, and understand how they are organized and how they are able to raise awareness among different audiences about the fight against racism.

An activist on issues of EDI and anti-racism, I was the instigator of the Rector’s Committee on Racism at the Université du Québec en Outaouais, to take concrete action to prevent racial violence and discrimination, and to improve UQO’s institutional policies on EDI.

At the community level, I have participated in a number of significant events concerning racial issues and the status of women in Canada, as well as supporting and advising women who are victims of workplace discrimination, violence and abuse.

In order to continue my efforts to encourage openness to others and surpassing one’s limits through transformative actions for equity and anti-racism, I wish to work on this issue that promotes social harmony.

Ndeye Khady Ngom

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

Can delayed help-seeking in mental health be explained by a decision-making conflict among immigrant populations in Québec, Canada?

As an immigrant myself, it took me several years to decide to consult a psychologist. In my circle, many immigrants are still reluctant to consult a psychologist, despite their suffering. Behind this hesitancy lies an uncertainty about the right choice to make when it comes to mental health, unlike their attitude to physical health problems. From the few conversations I’ve had, several factors seem to be involved (mental health stigma, fear of prejudice, cultural and religious frame of reference, etc.) hence the decision-making conflict mentioned in my question. My aim is to investigate, scientifically and within a research framework, the factors that play a role in this often lengthy hesitation to consult a mental health professional. I’m curious to understand the reasons behind this reluctance in the context of a scientific research project.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidentials.


How can sports coaches have an impact on society that goes beyond sport?

What are the obstacles to this role, and what are the possible solutions?

On December 2, a forum bringing together 50 sports coaches was held at Cégep Maisonneuve in Montreal. It was clear that coaches have an impact that goes beyond sport, but a number of obstacles were put forward, including funding, training and recognition of their social role. Faced with a certain powerlessness with regard to their own profession, the idea of creating a coaches’ association was born. The aim was to put forward their recommendations and have a real discussion with the various decision-makers in Québec. With this research project, we could develop a rigorous understanding of the impact of coaches on young people and society in general, while remaining critical of the obstacles facing coaches and the solutions that could help this situation.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidentials.

Environment (ecosystems, pollution, fauna, flora)

Can we evaluate the possibilities for the reuse and recovery of non-recycled plastics that are currently thrown away (plastic bags)?

In 2012, my daughter put together a science fair exhibit on a project to recycle plastic bags into paving stones in Niger and some other African countries. These bags were already considered a real scourge in 2006. It is unfortunate that since that time, it seems that nothing more useful and viable has been done than to collect them and send them to pollute the poorest countries. I think it is important to explore and put forward solutions in Québec to address the issue of plastic pollution, by studying the possibilities for reusing and recovering plastics that are not currently being recycled.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

Is it possible that wind farms emit low-frequency sounds that can propagate over long distances and cause a nuisance for local residents?

I live 13 km from the largest wind farm in Canada and since its commissioning I have been hearing vibration-like sounds. I have noticed that these sounds vary depending on the wind and when they are audible, they make a distinctive regular “wou wou wou” … It is impossible to block them out, even with earplugs. These sounds are more present and intense in winter and can be heard over several kilometres. I have done some research, and it seems clear to me that all the characteristics point to low-frequency sounds emitted by wind turbines. However, there is little specific research on this issue, and even less on the possibility of a cumulative effect of these waves in the case of large wind farms.

Hans Moreau

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

What is the composition of dandelion and chicory roots, and how can they best be used for food or consumption?

I think we should develop the cultivation of these roots commonly found in Québec and look at their potential for use in food, particularly those of chicory and dandelion. I am fascinated by the properties of these plant roots, and I would like to explore different ways of growing them, drawing on the soil-free methods used in China and Africa. Understanding the composition of these roots is crucial to thinking about how to integrate them into our diet and consumption, and to developing innovative cultivation methods for their production and supply.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

What are the best ways for citizens to promote bird biodiversity?

I worked for the Ministry of the Environment for 20 years, and I am interested in biodiversity and how it can be promoted. The decline in bird populations concerns me. I manage a farm and a vineyard, and to promote biodiversity, particularly that of birds, I have called on the services of Granby Zoo and an environmental advisory group. However, I am wondering about the use of bird nesting boxes in open areas and woodlands: effectiveness, number of broods, survival rate, species, etc. I have about twenty nesting boxes and plan to add more. But do they really help biodiversity? I would like to know what I can do to help preserve bird biodiversity, particularly in terms of choosing and placing nesting boxes and their overall effectiveness. Moreover, since birds live in an ecosystem, what measures can be taken to promote healthy ecosystems capable of supporting greater biodiversity, including that of our winged friends?

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

As a maple syrup producer, I'm wondering which tapping techniques are the most effective for optimizing maple sap harvesting.

Maple syrup production is rooted in Québec tradition, based on ancestral know-how handed down from generation to generation within families. As a maple syrup producer, I am interested in whether the techniques inherited from our ancestors are still relevant today in a highly competitive market shaped by technological advances and a rapidly changing environment due to global warming. I question whether traditional tapping practices are still optimal for maximizing yield at the tree level. I would like to collaborate with a researcher to understand the mechanisms of sap production in spring and explore alternative tapping practices in order to find innovative solutions that optimize tapping yield while respecting the health of maple trees. I believe that by combining my empirical knowledge with a scientific approach and new technologies, we can aim to understand how sap flow is established in the spring in order to perfect high-performance maple syrup production practices and stay at the cutting edge of current and future challenges facing the maple syrup industry.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidentials.

Given what we know about toxicology and the impact on humans of inhaling and ingesting industrial pollutants released by the Horne Smelter, can we extrapolate to the impact on pets?

Has there been any research on these impacts?
Is there any preventive advice that could be given to pet owners to prevent the toxicity of these waste products?

The ARET committee, of which I’m a member, has focused on the impact on humans, but some pet owners are concerned about the health of their animals. Some have lost (young) pets and are wondering about the causes. People want to know if there is anything they can do to prevent this.

Nicole Desgagnés

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

The results of our community snow sampling in April 2023 show high concentrations of metals. How can we use this data and possibly add to it in order to better inform the population and bring about change at the various government levels to ensure that norms are respected in order to reduce the release of these metals into the environment?

In the spring of 2022, the regional public health authority reported that downtown Rouyn-Noranda had 30% more cases of lung cancer, 50% more cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and 25% more low birth weight babies (born at 5 pounds or less) than the Québec average. These data, in addition to biomonitoring studies by the Abitibi-Témiscamingue public health authority (in 2019, children in the Notre Dame district had on average 4 times more arsenic in their fingernails than a control population, and adults also showed higher levels), raise concerns. In response to a request for an arsenic threshold exposure limit to prevent neurodevelopmental disorders in young and unborn children, INSPQ researchers came up with 15 ng/m3 of As.

All this new information on the contamination of our living environment has prompted me and many other citizens to carry out snow sampling. The Engage program is a great opportunity to find a resource person who can help me better understand the contamination in my environment. This future collaboration will enable me to answer this question, but also to take my reflection and civic commitment a step further.

Ultimately, what motivates me to ask this question is the health of our children, which inevitably depends on a healthy and safe environment.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidentials.

What is the relationship between the concentration of contaminants in house dust and the health risks associated with proximity to the Horne Smelter?

Last February we learned that the dust inside some homes was contaminated beyond the thresholds used for soil[1]. Following these revelations, I am worried about the risks this could pose and would like to see this issue investigated by an expert in the field. As a citizen, I am concerned about the effects of indoor dust on health and the environment in our daily lives. My main objective is to gain a better understanding of the correlation between the presence of contaminants and proximity to the smelter. A study is therefore needed to provide an overview of existing knowledge and the results obtained to date.


Wishes to keep their name and email confidentials.

Health, quality of life, health system

How does the composition of professional hairdressing products differ from that of drugstore brands, and can these differences, if any, affect the hair health, and overall health, of clients?

I have owned my own hair salon for 13 years now and this is a question that I am often asked by my clients. I have always wanted to know and understand the various ingredients in products, but there has been no training available. I would find it very interesting to compare certain products. There is a lack of knowledge about their composition and their effects, but not only for advising clients. Knowing more about them would help prevent the impact that certain products could have on clients with hair or dermatological conditions, or even medical problems. Does marketing have an impact on consumer choice when there is a lack of information on the product?

Christina Pinard

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

Do medical interventions during low-risk births influence attachment and parental involvement?

I see overwhelmed parents all around me, and difficult children in schools with new diagnoses, oppositional disorder, a lack of structure from disengaged parents…? At the same time, I see Québec’s epidural rate at 90%, obstetrical interventions, and antidepressant prescriptions for depression and anxiety.  Every birth is unique and is experienced differently: with or without an epidural, accompanied by a medical team or a midwife, etc. Each of these experiences could have an impact on attachment and the development of the mother-child or parent-child relationship. I would like to see a study of the links between all these things, for the well-being/well-birthing of families. The conclusions could help policymakers in the areas of public health, healthcare, education… Didn’t we say that Québec is crazy about its children?

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

Can oncolytic viruses be used as a prophylactic for certain cancers?

I am a second-year nursing student with a passion for oncology. I know that malignant tumors represent a major public health issue, and one day I would like to be able to help improve the management of this complex pathology. Oncolytic viruses were briefly mentioned in my microbiology course this term. As I learned about their ability to specifically target cancer cells, I wondered whether it would be possible to use them as prophylaxis rather than treatment. Would it be possible to administer, at fairly regular intervals, doses of a virus that has been modified to recognize certain types of cancer with known and well-established risk factors? For example, pulmonary adenocarcinoma in smokers. I imagine it must be infinitely more complex than it appears in our popular science books, but I’m still curious to know if this could be a feasible application.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

How long does it take for water left on a bedside table to become unfit for consumption?

The taste of a glass of water left on the bedside table changes after a few hours. But beyond that, should we worry about drinking it? This is an ongoing debate in our household, as I have a vague recollection of having read that after a certain number of hours, stagnant water can become “unsafe”, whereas my spouse does not think so. We want reliable information so we can make the best decision for the health of our child and our pets. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lack of knowledge and consensus about the dangers of drinking stagnant water.  Exploring these situations and acquiring knowledge about elements requiring special attention, such as factors related to the type of container or storage conditions, is essential to prevent health hazards. Thank you!

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

Why is the integration of traditional and complementary medicine into our healthcare system not being considered by our governments as a possible solution to the current crisis, even though it has been recommended by the World Health Organization for over ten years?

In 2021, I released a film entitled Chroniques hospitalières in which I describe my experience with the healthcare system. I have been living with a chronic illness since birth. To treat myself and improve my quality of life, I have been combining conventional and complementary medicine for over 35 years.
According to the WHO, the use of traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) is on the rise worldwide for a variety of reasons: dissatisfaction with existing services, interest in holistic care and prevention, the desire to take charge of one’s own health, the failure of certain conventional treatments or the aspiration for a better quality of life in the event of a life-threatening illness. People suffering from chronic illnesses seem to be the biggest users of these therapies.
After more than 20 years of observations and data collection on the efficiency of TCM, the WHO concludes that it can contribute to better universal health coverage (UHC) through greater accessibility to care, substantial cost savings and greater autonomy for individuals. I would really like to explore these issues so that they eventually become part of the public discussion.
Organizational and structural reforms come and go without consulting the public. What if we gave them a choice? What if we trusted people’s ability to care for themselves? What if conventional medicine didn’t have to be the first and only line of care offered? It is this need to look at healthcare differently that interests me. Having explored my own story, I would now like to take my reflection to a more social and political level.

Brigitte Lacasse

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

How can available tools such as imaging, molecular biology and psychological testing be better used to diagnose and assess mental health disorders in certain individuals?

The DSM-5 is the guide used to diagnose mental health disorders. Sometimes, however, mental health professionals do not agree on a diagnosis for the same set of symptoms. The consequences of this variation in clinical opinion can be disastrous for the person receiving different or erroneous diagnoses: inappropriate and lengthy treatment, side-effects leading to the onset of other illnesses or disabilities, inability to return to work, financial difficulties, difficulties in relationships with others, distress and suicidal ideation. For several years now, I have been navigating the healthcare system in search of a clear diagnosis in relation to my mental health. At one point in my journey, I found myself with a diagnosis of treatment-resistant depression from one psychiatrist, and a diagnosis of dysthymia from another. What’s more, it seems that I’m also on the autism spectrum and that attention deficit disorder and/or obsessive personality disorder could explain my condition. I don’t know which way to turn any more!  So I am wondering how more objective tools such as brain imaging, molecular biology and psychological testing could help eliminate certain hypotheses or confirm others. How can they be accessed and used to improve response to mental health treatments? Many people with problems similar to mine fall through the cracks of the healthcare system because their issues are too numerous and complex. How can we remedy this and have more personalized medical approaches?

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

What measures could be taken to help nursing staff deal with delirium in hospitalized patients, both in terms of clinical care for the patient and support for the patient's family and friends?

Following a major spinal cord operation in 2021, my recovery was hampered by post-operative delirium, for which I received a delayed diagnosis and treatment, after numerous calls for help from those around me. I believe I can contribute to research on this subject, through this terrifying experience.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

Are Morganella morgani and Klebsiella bacteria, which have been found in the intestines of patients with depressive symptoms, present in the environment and could they contribute to depressive symptoms?

I am very interested in mental health and especially in the potential bacterial causes of depression, having experienced depressive episodes myself, during which antidepressants did not seem to work. I have read a lot about the link between the gut and the brain, including pathogens that can cause depression (such as toxoplasmosis). I have closely followed recent research findings regarding the reduction/disappearance of depressive symptoms in mice whose vagus nerve has been severed (Instituts Pasteur). The link between gut and mood has been demonstrated in recent years. Could it be that depression has its origins in environmental causes such as bacteria present in our environment? If so, where are these bacteria found in the environment and what are the sources of contact? What if we stopped treating depression primarily as a mental illness? The solution might be different, and possibly more effective in some cases. After two years of reading, I wondered how I could further my reflection on the subject, and the Engage Program seemed like a good opportunity to learn more about it.

Marianne Mathis

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

Does the presence of community arts have an impact on the quality of care?

The healthcare network is facing major challenges. We need only think of the aging population, the labour shortage, and increasingly complex care needs. Faced with ever-increasing waiting times, healthcare network workers feel powerless. It seems impossible to reduce waiting times in the short term. As a result, our population is forced to spend long hours in drab, aseptic environments. Are there any measures we can take to improve care environments quickly?  Specifically, how can our educational institutions contribute to these public spaces by better mobilizing the creative forces of our students?  Several studies have shown the benefits of art in the healing process. These benefits extend to caregivers, patients and their families. In particular, the WHO unequivocally affirms the positive impact of art in preventing mental illness and age-related physical decline and alleviating neurological disorders (Fancourt, D., & Finn, S. (2019). What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? A scoping review. World Health Organization. Regional Office for Europe).  My name is Simon Tousignant, I am an industrial engineer by training, and I work on process improvement in a hospital environment.  My experience has brought me into contact with people from all walks of life, involved in care trajectories where hope is fragile. I see patients lying on their backs for days on end, staring at a white ceiling. Others require care that lasts for years, day after day, in a cacophony of beeps from dozens of devices that never stop. Thank you for your consideration!

Simon Tousignant

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

Are children who are victims of parental alienation more likely to develop mental health problems?

I am a target or alienated parent. My children are victims of parental alienation by the other parent.  I have noticed, in my own children, but also in those of other parents in the same situation, that many young people suffer from severe mental health problems. Can research help us find out whether parental alienation influences the development of children’s psychological health, and if so, how to prevent this increased risk?

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

Could citizen researchers working in the field of DNA genealogy join forces with university researchers to establish a catalog of ancestral genetic signatures, and thus take part in the validation and correction of a population database?

For the past 5 years, I’ve been working with a small community of citizen researchers who use the Y-chromosome and mitochondrial haplogroups of pioneers arriving from Europe to correct and/or clarify genealogical ancestries spanning several centuries. To date, these results are listed in a catalog of DNA signatures, maintained by one of us on a private website. A collaboration with the academic world could make it possible to host this catalog on a secure, public and non-profit platform. And the discoveries made by these citizen researchers could help improve the population database used by academic researchers.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidentials.

What do senior care specialists in Québec and Canada think about medical assistance in dying for a person with a major neurocognitive disorder?

The media provide us with contradictory information on advance requests for Medical Assistance in Dying, which can cast doubt in our minds. In day-to-day discussions with friends and family, this topic raises questions that cause concern among the elderly. When we have loved ones with major neurocognitive disorders, or are diagnosed with one, we wonder about advance requests for Medical Assistance in Dying, as it raises important ethical and moral questions. For example, do senior care specialists ask themselves how they can guarantee quality end-of-life care for all patients, whatever their illness or state of health? On what basis will they consider the person capable of making a free and informed decision following the diagnosis of a major neurocognitive disorder? How can we, as citizens, be sure that our request will be respected when the time comes? What do senior care specialists in Québec and Canada think?

Denise Corbeil

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

How can a MCT ketogenic diet help children with Krabbe disease?

My grandson suffers from neurodegenerative Krabbe disease, but he has had a number of motor improvements while on an MCT-enriched ketogenic diet. I would like to know why and share the results if they are convincing.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidentials.

Based on adults’ perceptions of the responses they received to their emotional needs in childhood, are there specific mental health problem trajectories in adults with regard to insecure (avoidant and ambivalent-resistant) attachment styles?

I have been working for a number of years in social services supporting families in difficulty, both parents and children. Through hundreds of encounters with people in need, and with my growing knowledge of attachment theory, I began to consider the context of my question, for which I hope to find clarification.

Disorganized attachment has been studied extensively because of its major impact on people’s life paths. For each of the other insecure attachment styles, I would like to see whether there are more specific mental health problem trajectories in adulthood. In addition, I would like to see how adults’ thoughts and perceptions of their childhood history may play a role in the diversity of their life course.

This question became clearer as I listened to what parents had to say.

My interest in this subject is to further our understanding, if trajectories are identified, with a view to taking more preventive action during childhood.

I’ll be retiring in a few months’ time, and sharing my question is in keeping with my personal interests and professional knowledge, and my desire to contribute to society in another way.

Laurent Potvin

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

How can experiential knowledge and peer support in the mental health field help people who hear voices in their efforts to achieve wellness and in times of crisis?

Background: The international hearing voices movement is now active in 23 countries, with more than 30 groups in Québec alone. The movement is peer-led and primarily builds on lived experiences and peer support to help hearers regain control over their voices and their lives.

As a member of this movement, I accompany people living with voices, individually and in groups, on their journey towards well-being, as part of my work as a peer support worker and mental health counselor in a community resource center. Throughout my personal journey, I have benefitted from participation in this movement and other therapeutic approaches. Today, the opportunity to accompany my peers continues to nourish and transform my experience. My desire to go further and broaden my perspectives and practices through research is rooted in these personal and professional experiences.

I am interested in how experiential knowledge as a voice hearer informs peer support:

– What elements enable voice hearers to pursue their journey towards well-being, sustain their quest for meaning and maintain meaningful connections when they are going through periods when they are more vulnerable or even in crisis? What are the obstacles and difficulties?

– What are the benefits and challenges that emerge from the peer support relationship between a support person with experiential experience and the voice hearer?

– How does providing support for young adult voice hearers differ?

– How does this peer-support practice benefit from and enhance other mental health approaches that place an emphasis on the experiences of those concerned (such as Intentional Peer Support, Internal Family System, Open Dialogue)? How does it contribute to offering prospects for personal transformation towards well-being?

– How does working in a community setting contribute to the deployment of the role of peer support person, or what are the obstacles?

– How can the arts contribute to the conversation and provide meaning in this intervention context?

This practice has had a number of positive effects for voice hearers, but there remains much to be done to better understand the challenges. Experiences in Québec, and more specifically those of support persons with experiential knowledge, have been little documented.

To my knowledge, few voice hearers have access to an intervention context where they can deploy the full potential of their experiential knowledge to support their peers.

I would like to see this issue, in all its aspects, explored in greater depth, documented and validated by a scientific approach backed by rigorous research. In addition to recognizing the value of the contribution of experiential knowledge in mental health, this project would help identify limits and challenges while offering new avenues to explore and thus contribute to the development and transmission of practices for voice hearers.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidentials.

What new therapeutic approaches are there to effectively treat the causes of angst in young people, which can later evolve into various ailments and then illnesses?

I have witnessed first-hand people who for years have “endured” analyses and psychoanalysis with no effect on the development of illnesses they were unable to reverse despite or because of medical care. Over the years, I have immersed myself in an exploration of theoretical works, such as those of Julia Kristeva, Freud, Jung, Jodorowski, Dolto, Bourbeau, Skinner, Coupal, the Kabbalah, Bateson, Watzlawick, Mead, Souzenelle, and others. These studies and theories frequently expose links between life course, entourage and therapeutic approaches.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidentials.

To what extent could artistic personality traits in young people be associated with an increased risk of psychotic episodes?

I am the mother of a young adult who has had several psychotic episodes.

He was treated at a FEP (first episode psychosis) clinic. I was his caregiver and have since become a family peer helper. I have also been an actress for 25 years. During my son’s recovery, as well as in my work as a peer helper, I observed that many young people facing this mental health issue (including my son) have so-called artistic personalities. I have seen young people who wanted to be musicians, dancers, artists and actors.

I am curious to know whether there could be a correlation between people with artistic traits and sensibilities and a greater propensity to experience psychotic episodes.

Perhaps when this sensitivity they possess is repressed, unexpressed, it could make the young person’s mental state more vulnerable?

We know that many renowned artists have created while living with a mental health problem. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know whether there is a link between the creative brain and more “fragile” mental health?

Wishes to keep their name and email confidentials.

How can patients be better prepared for meeting health professionals and navigating the health system so they get proper and timely care, using minimum resources?

Nobody is born with the knowledge of how to be a patient. We have to learn to prepare for medical appointments and navigate the healthcare system. With experience, we come to understand and learn.

As patients, we could do more to prepare ourselves and find the right services for our health, but we need to be taught and informed.

Being a patient can be learned! With a bit of support, we could use minimum resources to meet our needs.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidentials.

Materials engineering, technology, computer science

How can we develop and test a biocidal gel to protect wood used in construction against fire, fungi and pests?

Some 50 building fires occur in Québec every day. There are fire retardants and biocides of natural and ecological origin for wood used in construction that could considerably reduce this number. I would like to take part in a program to preventively treat wood destined for construction as it leaves the sawmill (some 100 sawmills cut lumber in Québec), but also to treat lumber in buildings that have already been built, and to test the treatment’s effectiveness, knowing that this natural product does not lose its effectiveness over time; it is naturally penetrating, fireproof, fungicidal and insecticidal. I would also like to urge the Ministry of Housing to advise builders and insurers to have lumber preventively treated before or during construction. I would like to design a biocidal gel with the additional property of penetrating deep into lumber to protect it against fire, wood-decay fungi (dry rot fungus), wood-boring larvae, termites, carpenter ants (a lumber pest), and the emerald ash borer through the treatment of standing trees by certified applicators. The aim of my research is not only to create this penetrating gel, but also to set up a gel manufacturing facility in Québec, so as to be able to create a dozen or so treatment companies—currently non-existent in North America—which could translate into several thousand companies across North America.

Alain Belloy

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

Philosophy, law, art

What specific challenges do emerging artists face in Québec, and what actions can be taken to help them establish sustainable careers?

As an emerging artist (puppeteer) working in a marginal profession and faced with precariousness, I question myself daily on whether it’s worth persevering. The current economic crisis accentuates this questioning. Can I legitimately hope to practice my artistic profession in 2023? Does my work have any value in society? I see the need to fight every day to convince society that my work has a tangible impact on the world around me. And I’m not the only one.

From an economic point of view, many emerging artists face irregular income and financial insecurity due to the intermittent nature of their artistic projects. This professional instability makes it difficult to meet basic needs such as housing and health. Funding and subsidy opportunities are often subject to fierce competition, creating an additional challenge for access to financial resources. In addition, the visibility of emerging artists is hampered by limited access to exhibition and performance spaces, complicating their professional advancement.

Socially, the recognition of artistic work and the value attributed to artistic careers can vary. Emerging artists in Québec may feel the need to demonstrate the social and cultural value of their work, which can have consequences for their psychological well-being.

Despite these challenges, I know that a dynamic network of organizations, community initiatives and artistic collectives is committed to supporting emerging artists in Québec. Discussions aimed at recognizing artistic contributions, facilitating access to resources and creating a more inclusive cultural ecosystem are underway to improve the socio-economic situation of emerging artists in Québec.

I want to be part of this movement, helping to demystify the status of the “up-and-coming” artist through meticulous research, and to take concrete action for a more fulfilling place in society.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential..

What are the minimum conditions and winning strategies for effective, mutually satisfying collaboration between artists and agents of change working towards greater social justice?

On the one hand, I am concerned about number of social issues (homelessness, lack of housing, food security, etc.) and on the other hand, I am active in the visual arts world, notably as a volunteer guide at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts. This fall, I attended a talk with Ken Grossinger following the publication of his book “Art Works: How Organizers and Artists are Creating a Better World Together” and I would be very interested in exploring strategies for collaboration between arts stakeholders and key changemakers working for greater social justice. What experiments have been carried out in Québec, and with what results? What initiatives failed, and why? What strategies remain to be explored? These are my key questions.

Nicole Lemire

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

What are the effects of artistic creation on reducing social inequalities?

I am very interested in the impact of art on the community, as it is difficult for cultural projects to demonstrate the benefits they provide in the fight against social inequalities. As a visual artist, during our workshops, I have seen the presence of people from difficult backgrounds for whom our workshops have clearly had a beneficial effect. I have witnessed the transformative effect of art on refugee children, as well as its influence on their life paths. My aim is to demonstrate the impact of art on the population and the reduction of social inequalities, highlighting the positive effects and impacts in the face of issues such as precariousness and social isolation. Demonstrating the added value of art would make it possible to emphasize the importance of funding artists and their projects.

Danielle Doucet

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

How is it possible that a human brain has more connections than there are stars in our galaxy? How can this be explained?

I am a journalist by training with a passion for science. I am always looking for answers to existential questions that make me think about the concept of infinity.

Nathalie Guerrero

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

Politics and society

How could the application of resilient thinking and the implementation of a transformative strategy help improve public policies to meet global food challenges and guarantee food security in Québec and Canada by 2030?

Food is probably the most important issue on the planet. Moreover, the global food crisis and food security need to be tackled more effectively if we are to put an end to famine, malnutrition and over-nutrition in Québec and Canada by 2030.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

How can we encourage workforce participation of retirees and reconcile the interests of the organizations that hire them on a part-time basis, in the midst of a labour shortage?

At the age of 61, I decided to retire, after starting a new job following 16 years on a board of directors. The new job required full-time work, 35 hours a week, a hybrid model with remote and in-office work. With the pandemic, after more than two years working exclusively from home, and having reduced my working hours to 21, it was too drastic an adjustment for me to make, and I decided it was time to enter retirement. The factors that demanded the most effort were the performance anxiety of adapting to new technologies at my new employer, the requirement to do more in-office work, and work weeks of over 35 hours with flexibility to work evenings and weekends. On the eve of my retirement, all these demands were destabilizing the quality of life I had created for myself.

So I began my retirement in the autumn of 2022, with a feeling of emptiness, of having nothing left to contribute to society. Despite joining several of the activities I’d dreamed of while working, I wasn’t totally stimulated, I didn’t feel I was evolving. I was afraid of becoming intellectually lazy, and a feeling of incompetence crept over me.

Moreover, despite financial planning with a professional in 2018, there was no indication at the time that inflation, the economic crisis and a wind of recession would blow through our society in 2023. So I decided to find a project I could engage in, at my own pace, with passion.  I wanted to get involved, be stimulated, and grow by investing in a project of interest to me and to society at large. How could I best use my experience as a new retiree, who still had the desire and passion to make an economic and social contribution to the development of our communities and thus feel useful again, keep my brain active, not to mention the factor of financial security, being able to count on some extra income to round out the month.

Having been a manager, I wonder about the duality of meeting my needs as a very part-time worker and the sound management of an employer balancing work schedules, team unity and equity. Yes, we are experiencing a labour shortage; yes, I still have the desire to work, but my quality of life in my sixties, and my physical and mental capacities, are not what they were in my twenties! How can we combine all these factors to provide a favourable environment for my employer and myself without neglecting work design, inclusion and organizational health?  Even with a well-planned retirement, all the global upheavals and soaring inflation are forcing more and more people aged 55 and over to return to the workforce. However, adaptation on both sides, employer and retiree, is necessary to ensure sustainability and healthy productivity.

Suzie Paquin

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

Givent the fundamental need for housing and the current societal context, to what extent is the Société d'habitation du Québec living up to its mandate and mission?

I have observed a problem with the mandate of the Société d’habitation du Québec (SHQ) and its management that is particularly acute in the current context, notably with regard to the control of housing bureaus (HB). Considering the characteristics of the SHQ and certain important aspects of HB management, such as clientele type and tenant participation, the basic need for housing, building maintenance and improvement, the social function of an HB, etc., we need to ask ourselves whether the SHQ is fulfilling its legal mandate and mission.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidentials.

Is it possible to use neuroscientific approaches to detect behavioural inclinations linked to pedophilia at an early age, so as to manage them and reduce the rate at which they are acted upon?

I am graduating in police technology and intend to go into sex crime investigation later on, so I thought it would be relevant to do research on a population I’ll be working with in my future career as a police officer. I have always wanted to create a project to help a certain target group. I feel that doing research into paedophilia could shed light on some of the familiar taboos surrounding the subject. Pedophiles are never going to be “accepted” in society, but if we can get them the help they need from an early age, it could potentially reduce the number of pedophiles who act upon their urges. Obviously, I can’t do this research on my own, because I need the help of experts who will bring a point of view that I may not have considered, or who may have another way of looking at things that could add value to the research. Hence the importance of working in collaboration with researchers.

Ann-Sophie Desnoyers

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

What is the prevalence of attachment disorders in adopted children in Québec according to background and age, compared to biological children?

As an adoptive mother who also wishes to have a biological child, this question is of particular interest to me, and to my knowledge there is no existing research on the subject. As president of an association of adoptive parents in Québec, I am well aware of the challenges we face. There are three types of adoption in Québec: regular adoption, for children whose biological parents relinquish parental rights; mixed bank adoption, for children removed from their families due to family problems; and international adoption. My aim is to get a clear picture of adoptive pathways in order to understand how attachment disorders evolve according to the child’s life course, type of adoption and age, in comparison with the pathways of biological children. This research would enable us to better support adoptive parents.

Vicky Chiasson

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

How does the presence of Espace citoyen, an organization that promotes citizen participation in a changing community, foster social harmony, interculturalism and citizen participation?

I see the community changing and I want to ensure that differences don’t get in the way of living together in harmony.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidentials.

How can we foster moral development in decision-makers in order to promote social transformation?

In my practice as a business psychologist working with decision-makers, I have discovered that decision-makers with seemingly more mature (advanced) moral development are actors of social transformation who enable environmental initiatives. How do we go about developing this? It seems to me that traditional andragogical approaches used in the business world do not adequately support decision-makers in achieving real transformation on a personal and social level.

I hypothesize that many environmental initiatives fail because individual differences are not taken into account, particularly in terms of the moral development of decision-makers.

Indeed, the more mature the moral development of decision-makers, the more ethical their mindset, and the more open and willing they are to embrace the social transformation that goes hand-in-hand with environmental initiatives. This is because adults with more mature moral development tend to refer to universal principles and adopt a civic posture rooted in interdependence. An interdependent position means seeing oneself as part of nature.

On the other hand, traditional decision-making approaches based on an independent perspective (“I am separate from nature”) are at odds with the complexity of environmental issues and do not require the same civic engagement on the part of decision-makers.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidentials.

If we consider health impacts, premature deaths, the cost of neighbourhood relocation, soil decontamination costs, the drop in the market value of homes, the various subsidies and tax credits, etc., what is the real economic cost of air and soil pollution caused by emissions of toxic contaminants from the Horne Smelter?

I live in Rouyn-Noranda, a city that has been subjected to toxic emissions from the Glencore-owned Horne Smelter for almost a hundred years. In the spring of 2022, we learned that the city has 50% more cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 30% more lung cancers and 25% more low-birth-weight babies than elsewhere in Québec. We also learned that in some neighborhoods, people live an average of 6 years less. In 2018 and 2019, two biomonitoring studies revealed that residents of the neighborhood closest to the smelter had 3.7 times more arsenic in their bodies than residents of a control population living 100 km away. Despite this alarming data and a negative public consultation, in its renewed ministerial authorization, the government is allowing the Horne Smelter to release arsenic into the air at concentrations up to 22 times the norm. I am truly concerned for the people of my community.

To date, no argument has swayed the current government’s decisions, which are based on the expertise of the public health board. This body does, however, recommend a temporary target value of 15 ng of arsenic per cubic metre of air, to be reached as quickly as possible while industry works to meet the Québec standard of 3 ng/m3. And yet, the government has given Glencore 5 years to achieve the 15 ng/m3 level, with no mention of the Québec standard of 3 ng/m3 in the ministerial authorization. We also know that the cancer risk assessment carried out by the INSPQ does not take into account the long history of exposure of Rouyn-Noranda residents.

In the last budget, the federal and provincial governments announced $375 million in tax credits for the multinational Glencore to upgrade its facilities.

I would like to see the total economic costs generated by air and soil pollution in Rouyn-Noranda taken into consideration, so that a proper damage cost analysis of these exemptions granted by the government can be made.

Does this company really benefit Québec society? I think this is a valid question.

It is essential that the social and economic consequences of health impacts be considered as a whole. The economic value of the impacts on the health of Rouyn-Noranda residents, the cost of premature deaths, medical costs, absenteeism from work, pain, anxiety, the drop in the market value of homes, the costs associated with soil decontamination and the restoration of damaged ecosystems, the retention of residents, the recruitment of professionals, the various subsidies and tax credits granted, all need to be factored in. All the damage done to my community must be included in order to assess the real cost of this government decision.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidentials.

Urban studies

Is it possible to use a reward system to make sustainable modes of transportation more attractive and encourage the adoption of sustainable mobility behaviours?

Interest in sustainable mobility is not very high in the Chaudière-Appalaches region and the greater Québec City area, where solo car culture is still firmly entrenched. Moreover, the region’s transportation services are underdeveloped. As a citizen, I find that the authorities aren’t doing enough to help us adopt new modes of travel and that the existing infrastructure is not attractive enough to encourage us to leave our cars behind on a daily basis. I wanted to learn more about the subject and came across two articles that inspired me. The first is “How ‘gamification’ can make transport systems and choices work better for us” ( The other is entitled “A Hyper-Integrated Mobility as a Service (MaaS) to Gamification and Carbon Market Enterprise Architecture Framework for Sustainable Environment” (Energies 2023, 16(5), 2480; The second article talks about “smart cities”, “Mobility as a Service (MaaS)” and “gamification”, describing in detail the data architecture of an integrated system including a gamification module. Essentially, the integration of different modes of transportation such as buses, trains, taxis and car-sharing services into a single system accessible via a single integrated digital platform that rewards users for choosing sustainable modes of transportation or offers discounts to encourage environmentally friendly behaviour. In Chaudière-Appalaches, we already have a platform called Transit that lets you find the best way to get from point A to point B by combining different modes of transportation (bus, walking, cycling, car-sharing, etc.) and which already has a “playful” element (you can personalize your profile, take surveys, etc.) So, I’m wondering if we couldn’t go a step further by adding the “rewards” aspect as an incentive. I would like to work on a project to test such a system and measure the effects of gamification on the adoption of sustainable mobility solutions.

Marie-France Vincent

Wishes to keep their email confidential.

How can adapting street furniture for people with mobility issues improve accessibility and active participation in an urban setting like Québec City’s St-Roch district?

I am a citizen of Québec City who has undergone a number of surgeries in recent years. During my periods of recovery and rehabilitation, I became aware that the distances between places to rest are very great when moving around downtown. It can take almost a kilometre to find the closest public bench.

The population of the St-Roch district is aging, with the highest percentage of elderly people living alone outside specialized housing (senior’s home or condominium for over-55). At the same time, it is widely recognized that access to public space is essential to breaking isolation and promoting the physical and mental health of seniors. But how can I leave home knowing in advance that I do not have the physical capacity to walk a certain distance without being able to rest, catch my breath and get my strength back on a public bench or backrest? In my opinion, this is a real issue on which our public authorities must take action.

In 1978, the Québec National Assembly passed the first law promoting accessibility and integration for people with disabilities. This was amended in 2004 and enacted under the name Act to secure handicapped persons in the exercise of their rights with a view to achieving social, school and workplace integration.

This act stipulates that disabled people must be guaranteed access to public buildings and spaces and must be able to use all the facilities found within them. However, no article refers to the design of public spaces for people with reduced mobility.

Québec City has been designated an Age-Friendly Municipality (AFM) by the Ministère des affaires municipales et de l’habitation du Québec (MAMH). A review of the literature on this designation revealed that no specific standards for physical accessibility are considered when awarding this distinctive and inclusive status.

We recognize that the City of Québec offers mostly integrated leisure, activity and accommodation services, and supports a number of organizations that provide more comprehensive support services for older people.

The St-Roch district is home to the greatest concentration of seniors in Québec City who do not live in a retirement home. It is for this reason that I would like to initiate a research project to address this specific issue, but which could also eventually be applied elsewhere.

Robert Rousse

Wants to keep their email confidential.

For the population of Lévis, what is the retention rate of student transit users once they enter the job market, and what are the reasons for abandoning this mode of transport?

I am a big supporter of public transit. I take it regularly. I get the impression that few working-age adults use public transit in my region. Rather, the clientele seems to be largely made up of students (CEGEP and university), retirees and low-income earners. It might be simplistic, but I think it would be worthwhile to determine the retention rate and then work on the reasons for abandoning this mode of transport. It is reasonable to assume that people who have already used public transit on a regular basis might continue to use it later in life.

Jocelyn Tremblay

Wishes to keep the email confidential.


(to come)

Questions proposed by citizens previously

You can also consult the Questions asked in previous editions if you need inspiration to ask your question.