Former Quebec premiers warn against Bill 15
November 1, 2023
MONTREAL – Six former Quebec premiers are concerned about the potential effects of the provincial government’s proposed health reform, known as Bill 15. The bill was tabled in March and aims to create Santé Québec, which would be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the health network.
In an open letter published in Le Journal de Montréal, former premiers Pierre Marc Johnson, Daniel Johnson, Lucien Bouchard, Jean Charest, Pauline Marois and Philippe Couillard voiced their opposition to the CAQ government’s plan.
“Merging hospital centres and university institutes into a newly created Crown corporation will have a negative impact on these institutions, which play an essential role in Quebec society,” the premiers’ letter reads.
“We are speaking to you with one voice, motivated by the conviction that no issue is more important to Quebecers than access to quality health and social services.”
The agency would coordinate network operations and become the sole employer of healthcare workers in the province, rather than the 34 that currently exist.
It would also create four collective agreements rather than 136; a service quality and complaints commissioner would be appointed; and mobility of personnel would be encouraged.
Current health minister Christian Dubé (pictured) has said a more organized structure at the top will lead to reduced wait times in emergency rooms and surgeries and improve the overall patient experience.
However, the former premiers warn “while the aim of the reform is to make the health and social services system more efficient and integrated, there are exceptions that must be preserved in the interests of patients and the pursuit of these institutions’ missions of excellence.”
“Hospitals and university institutes bring together care, research, teaching, technology evaluation and prevention in a single organization. These activities are inseparable and perfectly integrate.”
In the letter, they highlight the situation of the Montreal Heart Institute specifically.
“Merging the care of the Montreal Heart Institute and other university establishments into Santé Québec would inevitably lead to a decline of their performance in the pursuit of their mission of excellence in health care, to the detriment of patients and Quebec society as a whole.”
They add the institutions’ loss of autonomy may also impact their abilities to raise funds through donations essential to the “sustainability and growth of advanced care, research, prevention, technology evaluation and teaching missions.”
The ex-premiers end their open letter by asking Premier François Legault to modernize Quebec’s healthcare system without compromising the needs of Quebecers.