Quebec's hospital network says health care in the province could be in dire straits soon unless the government steps in with an investment of more than $1 billion.
The Association québécoise d’établissements de santé et de services sociaux — which represents health-care establishments across the province — says if the government doesn’t allocate extra money for health care, then hospitals won’t be able to balance their budgets.
“At a certain point we'll have to not replace people on sick leave, or on maternity leave so that we can continue serving people and reaching a balanced budget. What that means is longer wait times for patients,” said Diane Lavallée, head of the Association.
The association said that in recent years, the provincial government has poured more money into health care — but almost all of it went toward salary increases for doctors.
Physicians say this is a wise investment in order to encourage doctors to practice in Quebec.
“If we improve the remuneration, we improve the way to pay the doctors to make sure that they are more efficient — that they take charge over the patients who are sick,” said Dr. Louis Godin, president of the Quebec Federation of General Practitioners.
Opposition wants budget increase
Quebec’s Liberal party is also calling on the Parti Québécois to increase the health care system’s budget.
Health critic Yves Bolduc says the government can do so, all without cutting any services.
“We need to augment productivity of the system. We need to have a good economy because if you have a good economy, you can have more money to put in the health system. We know that this PQ government wants to cut in the health system, wants to cut in the hospitals — because they don't know how to manage the health system,” Bolduc said.
But Quebec Health Minister Réjean Hébert says if there isn’t enough money, it’s not because hospitals’ budgets are too small. He says the way hospitals are run might be the problem.
“Quebecers give a lot of money in health care, and they want the money to go to the care of people — not to administrative and bureaucratic purposes. So there are still efforts to be done in decreasing administrative costs,” Hébert said.
The government will unveil its budget on Thursday.