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Bill proposes overhaul of healthcare system

Bill 15 could have implications both locally and across the province

Camilla Faragalli
Pontiac Nov. 27, 2023
Quebec is pushing to pass a major healthcare reform bill before the end of this year’s parliamentary session on Dec. 8.
Bill 15, tabled by Minister of Health Christian Dubé, calls for the creation of a province-run corporation called Santé Québec – a centralized healthcare agency that would oversee all activities relating to the public healthcare system, including everything from its services to its access committees.
Santé Québec would become the sole employer of the province’s healthcare workers, essentially replacing regional health agencies, integrating the CISSS and CIUSSS.
“[Dubé] has indicated that what he really wants here is top down decision making,” said André Fortin, provincial member for Pontiac and the health critic for the Liberal Party of Quebec, during an interview with THE EQUITY. “[This] would leave very little room for innovation on the part of healthcare professionals.”
Fortin said he has spent close to 200 hours in committee meetings with the health minister in an attempt to “improve” the bill, even though he believes it to be “deeply, deeply flawed.”
“It would leave very little room for local adaptation to local realities,” he said, “and, there are a growing number of healthcare professionals who speak of a very tangible risk of it de-mobilizing their workforce.”
Josey Bouchard, spokesperson for an official citizen group called Pontiac Voice, said the “mammoth” size of the bill makes it difficult to assess all of its implications.
Bill 15, which is over 300 pages long and comprises over 1,000 different articles, is notably the second largest ever to be presented at the National Assembly.
“It’s hard to see if it’s going to be as decentralized as they say it will be, but it’s like the government wants to put an arm’s length between developing policies and who’s going to make those policies happen,” Bouchard said.

According to Bouchard, this is problematic because it makes it harder to hold the government accountable when things aren’t going well.
“It sort of washes off a little bit of the [government’s] responsibility,” she said.
Bouchard maintains that if the bill is passed, whatever kind of committee is offered to give voice to the people of the Pontiac, “people have to be there.”
“We can’t leave an empty chair,” she said.
“An empty chair doesn’t speak out. Only a person does.”
QCGN petition
The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), a not-for-profit organization linking English-language groups across the province, has posted a petition on its website demanding the provincial government put an immediate hold on Bill 15.
QCGN president, Eva Ludvig, urges all Quebecers to sign. “The government wants to ram the 300-page bill through by December 8, so quick action is required,” she says in a letter sent to publications throughout the province.
According to Ludvig, experts participating in a recent QCGN webinar on the subject say “the bill will do nothing to address the crises in our emergency rooms, delays in surgeries or the lack of family doctors. What it will do is centralize government control under an umbrella organization called Santé Québec, while abolishing the boards of local institutions, and eliminating any role for patients, families, volunteers, and communities – people the health-care system exists to serve.”

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