You have announced that you no longer wish to remain president of your party and that you are not seeking a new mandate at the head of your ministry. What do you want to do?
Corinne Cahen: Many things! I'm full of ideas. But what I want to do most, as I said, is to finish the work that I started at the ministry of family and integration.
Our country has enormous challenges ahead of it. As soon as I go out on the street, I see them. But one of the most important ones, in my opinion, is living together. 58% of the population does not have Luxembourg nationality. What we are doing at the level of the ministry of family and integration is something essential.
This living together is one of the causes that thrill me, along with the work-life balance--I am proud to say that more fathers than mothers now take parental leave--the fight against poverty, the elderly and disability. With regard to the latter, I note that we have passed a law on accessibility... which nobody has mentioned. In 10 years, our country will be completely accessible to everyone. Of course, we are talking about wheelchair accessibility, but also about accessibility for the visually impaired, the hearing impaired, etc. And this has gone unnoticed. Probably because it won't come into force immediately.
When you hear your motivation for this ministry, one might think that trying to implement solutions for all the things you mention could push you towards a third mandate, right?
No. I'll tell you a little story so you understand. After I was elected MP in 2013, I received a phone call one evening from Xavier [Bettel], telling me that I was going to become a member of the government. I thanked him for that, before asking him what portfolio he was thinking of for me. And then he mentioned a few... that I was really not interested in. I told him so. He gave me until the next day to think about it. So I spent my night looking at the phone book, just to get an idea of the different ministries. I didn't know much about how the government worked at the time and what each one did. Up until then, I had mostly dealt with the ministry for small and medium-sized enterprises and I knew I didn't want that one (she smiles).
What I liked was what I was talking about: the work-life balance, poverty, disability, the elderly, and so on. The next day, I went to see Xavier and explained to him that I liked the family ministry, that I could carry out the projects I had in mind. But today I see that my programme, i.e. the improvements that I considered necessary, is almost complete. I have never understood people who accept a ministry because they just want to be a minister... Here, we have achieved a great deal in 10 years and helped many people. I can consider my mission accomplished.
I have never understood people who accept a ministry because they just want to be a minister.
It is understandable that in the future you will not accept just any other ministerial post. Specifically, which ministry attracts you?
The ministry of labour. I find it 'sexy', because there are many things to reform. Like working hours, making sure that people can organise their lives better, etc.
At the ministry for family and integration you were exposed to harsh criticism. The opposition asked for your resignation twice a little over a year ago because of the management of care and retirement homes. How did you experience this period?
It was difficult. Because we all worked like crazy... and maybe we didn't communicate enough. At least that's what we were accused of. At the same time, I didn't think that in the middle of a serious health crisis it was my job to do so. It was more the responsibility of the health ministry, and it did so. Afterwards, there was quite a lot of internal communication, but it's true that I didn't really put myself on display on social networks to show it via 'stories' or 'posts'...
I would also like to add that it is always easy to criticise. But it would also be easy to look at the statistics. Even if every death is one too many--and I know this all the better because my dad has died--when you compare our figures with those available abroad, no one can say that we have done less well. Overall, we have protected people well.
Just because I don't like someone doesn't mean I can do what I want. Orpea will be treated like all others.
We know that Orpea, one of the world leaders in the field of accommodation for the elderly, has applied for approval to set up in Luxembourg. What is the status of this application?
They have a house ready in Merl. And they are building a second one, near Strassen, I think. Their application for approval for the first one is underway. The answer should not be long in coming...
I read the scandalous investigative book 'Les Fossoyeurs' by journalist Victor Castanet. My heart bled as I read it. If only a third of what is written is true, it is already horrible!
You will have the final signature on this application...
Yes, but I have to stick to the law. Just because I don't like someone doesn't mean I can do what I want. Orpea will be treated like all others. I understand that there is a bad feeling about their request. But this will undoubtedly lead to greater vigilance.
We have seen in this case how complex it can be to monitor establishments...
In Luxembourg, once an approval is given, it gives us the possibility of monitoring. Both at the level of the family ministry and the nursing insurance. Since the health crisis, we are working even more closely together. If a complaint is filed or if the nursing care insurance company detects signs of abuse in the statistics, we go to the site. Otherwise, we go there automatically at least once a year. And then we also have a new law--which has just come back from the Council of State--which will give us a lot of means of control. Everything will be even stricter.
Afterwards, in France, Orpea is also criticised for having increased its profits by hiring fewer carers than the public funds allocated for this purpose allow. The group has therefore made profits thanks to public money. Now, at this level, I have to say that, for the moment, in our country, it hasn't touched a cent.
was published this Tuesday on the delano.lu website. This article was first published in French on and translated for Delano.