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Ex-Parti Québécois health minister Jean Rochon, 83, dies

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MONTREAL — Jean Rochon, a former Parti Québécois health minister known for introducing anti-smoking measures and reforms that allowed Quebecers to receive care outside of hospitals, has died.

Rochon's widow told The Canadian Press he died Saturday after a brief illness. He was 83. 

Rochon served as a cabinet minister in provincial governments of Jacques Parizeau, Lucien Bouchard and Bernard Landry during a nine-year career in politics between 1994 and 2003.

Premier François Legault was among many provincial politicians who paid tribute to Rochon Tuesday, expressing condolences to the family of his former colleague, whom he described in a Twitter post as a kind and brilliant man.

Born in 1938, Rochon obtained a law degree in 1961 and a medical degree in 1966. He went on to obtain a masters in public health in 1968 and a doctorate in public health in 1973 from Harvard University.

Rochon was elected for the first time in 1994 in the Charlesbourg riding in the Quebec City area and held numerous cabinet positions, notably the health portfolio between 1994 and 1998. He quit politics in 2003.

His career highlights included leading a shift to a system that reduced the need for long hospital stays, with more care provided at home or in neighbourhood clinics. He also oversaw the province's 1998 law aimed at restricting tobacco use in public places and curbing youth smoking.

Rochon was also responsible for the founding of the province's public health institute in 1998.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2021.

The Canadian Press