Montreal

Bill 10 stirs opposition from Quebec anglophone groups

Representatives from Quebec’s English-speaking communities are concerned that proposed legislation to overhaul the administration of health services will have a devastating impact.

Legislation proposes to save the province roughly $220 million per year by cutting down on bureaucracy

Clifford Lincoln, who remains critical of some measures by Philippe Couillard's Liberal government, resigned his cabinet post in 1988, saying famously "Rights are rights are rights." (CBC)

Representatives from Quebec’s English-speaking communities are concerned that proposed legislation to overhaul the administration of health services will have a devastating impact.

Health Minister Gaétan Barrette has said that Bill 10 will save the province roughly $220 million per year by cutting down on bureaucracy.

It buries the individual, it buries the client, it buries the patient- Clifford Lincoln, Former Liberal MNA

The bill would get rid of the province's 18 regional health agencies and reduce the number of administrative boards of directors from 200 to 28.

However, the anglophone rights group — Quebec Community Group Network (QCGN) — is warning that eliminating boards at individual health institutions will weaken them to the point where anglophones will not have any representation.

Former Liberal MNA Clifford Lincoln called Bill 10 unfair and unjust, saying the provincial government is pushing it through too quickly.

"It's such a huge reorganization of the health system that it buries the individual, it buries the client, it buries the patient, it buries the individual institutions and their boards into one, big, mega-reorganized system," Lincoln told CBC's Radio Noon.

'Very damaging to our institutions'

The president of the board for the MAB-Mackay Rehabilitation Centre in Montreal said the bill’s objectives to streamline the health-care system are legitimate, but they miss the target. 

“What Bill 10 does to achieve that objective is totally, totally unnecessary and very damaging to our institutions and to our community,” Sara Saber-Freedman said.

She said the bill would allow the health minister to appoint a board for a health-care “mega-institution”, leaving the community cut off from control.

Community will have its say: Barrette

Barrette said the members of the new board will come from the boards of the original hospitals and institutions.

"The community will have its say as has always been the case," he said.

"Nothing will change in that matter for the anglophone community representation."

Premier Philippe Couillard also reiterated the point at a news conference on Monday.

"I will tell Mr. Lincoln and all English-speaking Quebecers that this bill is for all Quebecers. Also, we recognize the contribution of the English-speaking community in the identification of health care in Quebec and we will protect that," Couillard said.

The leaders of rural municipalities are also concerned about losing their voices if governance is centralized.    

"We stand to lose a lot, economically speaking, because we're going to lose a lot of professionals and high-paid civil servants that work in the area. And we may stand to lose also some services on the long run," said Michel Merleau, the warden of the regional municipality La Vallée-de-la-Gatineau.

"We're not only losing jobs, we're losing leadership in the region and that's something we're in desperate need of in the rural areas of the Outaouais."

The province spends more than $30 billion on health care annually.

With files from Chloe Fedio

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