The Health Reform Bill 15 was passed on Saturday morning under a gag order

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The Health Reform Bill 15 was passed on Saturday morning under a gag order

So the wish of the Minister of Health Christian Dubé was granted. On Friday, he declared that he was “tired” and was in a hurry to move on, stressing that his bill had already been the subject of more than 200 hours of study by a parliamentary committee.

In a press briefing on Saturday morning, Mr. Dubé is happy with the adoption of the bill, saying that he is convinced that it will have a positive effect for patients in hospitals, something that political parties strongly doubt.

The minister is particularly adamant that his reform will give Quebecers better access to specialist doctors.

In addition, it is possible to receive treatment anywhere, regardless of your postal code, and to be given an alternative solution, in another region or in the private network (free), if the waiting times are considered unreasonable.

“This is a good day, because it is Day 1 of the transition that begins and that will lead to the transformation of our great health network,” declared Mr. Dubé.

He also wanted to reassure employees of the network, which will experience “significant changes” in the coming months. He promised to “explain well” these changes, especially what will happen to the Ministry of Health.

Bill 15 further creates the Santé Québec agency, which is responsible for coordinating network operations. The ministry will primarily focus on determining the main directions. Staff transfers are expected.

Santé Québec will be the sole employer; CISSS and CIUSSS will be included in this. Union certifications will be consolidated. We have also introduced a seniority list, which will allow the movement of staff from one region to another.

Bill 15 is part of the Legault government’s desire to get more “flexibility” from health network players, most of whom are currently on strike until December 14 as part of the renegotiation of their collective agreements.

“(Now that Bill 15 has been adopted), I can go back to the farm, go to the hospitals and take care of our employees a little bit,” the minister said.

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Gag criticized

The opposition parties strongly criticized the use of the gag order to adopt this major reform of the health network. On Friday night, they were furious, demanding that the minister explain each article or changes he adopted.

The parliamentary leader of Québec solidaire (QS), Gabriel Nadeau−Dubois, was the last to oppose the adoption of the bill before the vote on Saturday morning.

“It’s a bad idea for our democracy, for our health system, for Quebec to impose the biggest reform of public services in the history of Quebec under one mandate. This government has chosen confrontation ,” he said.

The government has proposed to the opposition to extend the detailed study of Bill 15 until next week, an implicit “admission” that there remains much work to be done, according to QS MP Guillaume Cliche−Rivard.

The offer was rejected, among other things, because it included a deadline, that is to say the government insisted that the work be completed by December 15 at the latest, even if the 2000 items have not yet been completed. checked.

“It was a long night. Until the last minute (…), there are still many errors raised (…) in some articles that we have time to process. It shows that this bill is more than perfect,” said Mr. Cliche−Rivard.

Throughout the process, the opposition also bemoaned the minister’s inability to answer questions on major sections of his reform, as well as the changes he had put in himself.

In the end, they agreed to adopt the amendments en bloc, in exchange for improvements in the bill, especially the autonomy of midwives, which explains the short duration of the gag procedure.

“The 400 articles that we did not study (…), what effect does this have?” asked the spokesperson of the Parti Québécois (PQ) on health, Joël Arseneau, in a press briefing on Saturday morning.

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According to the interim leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ), Marc Tanguay, Bill 15 will not improve patient services.

“This is a bad reform that does not solve many problems of access to care. Emergencies are overflowing in Quebec, everywhere, and we see people who die even in the emergency room and have a chain of delays,” criticized Mr. Tanguay.

This is the fifth gag order imposed by the Legault government to force the adoption of bills since coming to power in 2018. The work of the parliament has been adjourned until January 30, 2024.

Lots of reactions

There have been many reactions since the adoption of Bill 15 on health reform early Saturday morning in the National Assembly.

Obviously, elected officials from opposition parties continue to criticize the use of a gag order to move quickly forward on this major reform.

Elsewhere, however, reactions were more divided.

According to the Union of Government Professionals of Quebec (SPGQ), the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé, does not seem to know that he does not have the necessary personnel to carry out his reform that will lead to the creation of a new the state. corporation.

The president of SPGQ, Guillaume Bouvrette, even believes that government professionals have no interest in working at Santé Québec, at least not in the current transition situation expected for many employees of the Ministry of Health.

“The minister suggested that the salary of those transferred is the same as Santé Québec, which is not true. In fact, the professional staff of the ministry earn 7% to 14% more than the health network,” explained Mr. Bouvrette.

“This means that our members will receive half of the salary increase provided for in the collective agreement and the other half in lump sums until their Santé Québec salary complies with the new agreement. This situation, which may continue for many years,” he said.

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Others, however, view this massive reform of the health network with optimism.

This is the case of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Quebec (FCCQ) which considers that the adoption of Bill 15 creating the Santé Québec agency “creates an opportunity to finally break down the silos of the health network to promote interregional labor mobility and the adoption of innovative practices.

“Employers in different regions have reason to rejoice with the announced arrival of seniority in the network. Finally, they can now recruit workers from outside their region whose spouse works in the health network, which not hindered by the fact that they must surrender all their privileges.the FCCQ.

The federation, however, is concerned about some of the powers given to the new agency and expects guidelines to manage it properly.

For its part, the Association of Managers of Health and Social Services Establishments (AGESSS) welcomes with nuance the adoption of Bill No. 15 (PL15), An Act aimed at making the health and social services system more effective.

“AGESSS welcomes the government’s efforts to improve the efficiency of the health and social service network (…) However, we regret that our recommendation to create a Council of Local Managers remains a dead one that letter. This is primarily aimed at ensuring that managers are consulted throughout the transition towards the creation of the Santé Québec agency so that it happens without pitfalls,” stated the president and CEO of AGESSS, Danielle Girard.

“It is also with concern that the AGESSS notes that the bill has not been amended to determine the direct intervention powers of the Minister in the daily management of health network establishments and services. social (…) The minister and his The ministry should concentrate on determining the directions and not intervene in the management of the network,” his press release also indicated.

AGESSS represents more than 8,300 active network managers of health and social services.