Health Minister Gaétan Barrette appoints 10 new members to MUHC board

Leading the appointments is long-time Power Corporation Vice-President Peter Kruyt, who will serve as chair of the MUHC board.

Power Corp. vice-president, 9 others replace 10 who quit to protest against Barrette's leadership style

David McAusland, who chaired the recruitment committee, speaks with Quebec's Health Minister Gaétan Barrette at Monday's announcement of the MUHC's 10 new independent board members.

Quebec's Health Minister Gaétan Barrette has appointed 10 new independent members to the board of directors of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), replacing the 10 members who resigned in July in a protest against Barrette's leadership style.

Leading the appointments is a long-time vice-president of Power Corporation, Peter Kruyt, who will chair the MUHC board.

Kruyt, who has been with Power Corporation since 1996, replaces Claudio Bussandri as MUHC chairman.

Bussandri and nine other independent members of the MUHC's board of directors resigned en masse over what they said was Barrette's lack of co-operation with the 19-member body.

They said Barrette ignored their requests for meetings, didn't respond to correspondence and refused to share with them reports on the MUHC commissioned by the Health Ministry, one of which recommended putting the institution in trusteeship, before eventually making those reports public.

The institution faced a $115-million deficit in 2012-2013, and Barrette has said more needs to be done to get the MUHC on the right financial path.

The nine other board members named Monday are:

  • Mary-Anne Carignan.
  • James Cherry.
  • Deep Khosla.
  • Michal Piotr Kuzmicki.
  • Dale MacCandlish-Weil.
  • Kevin O'Farrell.
  • Thomas Pitfield.
  • Sarah Prichard.
  • Samira Sakhia.

In an interview with CBC News, Carignan said Barrette has promised his full co-operation with the newly reconstituted board of directors.

"We have a commitment, and [Barrette] has promised us his ear," she said. 

Mary-Anne Carignan said Quebec's Health Minister Gaétan Barrette has promised his full co-operation with the MUHC's reconstituted board of directors. (CBC)
Carignan and her new colleagues were selected from a list of 69 candidates. 

"We have 10 new independent board members in place who are, to a person, outstanding individuals with great talent," said David McAusland, chair of the nine-member recruitment committee that was created in July.

In a news release issued Monday, Barrette said the new board members have his "full confidence."

"I am confident that they are the people best placed to spread the influence of this great institution, the MUHC," he said.

The MUHC Users Committee echoed that sentiment Monday.

"We look forward to working with the new reconstituted board to reinforce the MUHC as a world class academic health care centre and a flag ship institution for McGill University, providing the best care for life for everyone," the committee said in an emailed statement Monday.

Not everyone pleased 

Not everyone was satisfied with the appointments. Three unions representing MUHC employees had sought seats on the board to ensure staff concerns were heard, but that request was ignored.

Denyse Joseph, president of the union representing the hospital's 3,600 nursing and cardio-respiratory professionals, said she was disappointed that Barrette opted not to involve the unions.

"As a union, I am the one representing all my members, and I have 3,600 members working here, and I have no say," she said. 

"I should be there. I should have the right to make sure what is decided about the money and what we're doing at the MUHC."

One of the new board's priorities will be finding a replacement for Normand Rinfret, who stepped down as president and executive director of the MUHC in September 2016 and has yet to be replaced.

Barrette said the board will have full freedom to select two candidates for the position. It would then be up to Barrette as health minister to have the final say.