Medical students meet in Quebec City to denounce Bill 20

Around 1,000 of the province’s medical students protested against Bill 20 in Quebec City on Monday.

Health care reform bill would dehumanize family medicine, argue students

Medical students against Bill 20 are protesting in Quebec City today. (Julie Marceau/Radio-Canada)

About 1,000 of the province’s medical students protested in Quebec City on Monday against health care reforms they say would dehumanize family medicine.

Students decked out in lab coats and stethoscopes from the medical schools at McGill University, University of Montreal, Laval University and University of Sherbrooke gathered at the National Assembly for their demonstration.

Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette at the National Assembly earlier this month. His proposed health care reforms have not been popular with Quebecers. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

The students have distanced themselves from the anti-austerity student movement; rather, they are focused on speaking out against Bill 20, a sweeping health care reform bill that would impose a minimum number of patients that doctors would have to see.

Forcing doctors to set quotas would dehumanize family medicine, the students argue.

“Turning the doctor-patient relationship into a calculation, that goes against the values they teach us,” said Ariane Veilleux Carpentier, the president of the University of Montreal medical students association.

Health Minister Gaétan Barrette has gone to bat for Bill 20, saying that although more doctors are working and the government is investing more in the system, access to a doctor is more difficult.

Barrette has said that proves there's a need to make changes to the system.

Some students, like Laval University medical student association president Jessica Ruel-Laliberté, have said Bill 20 and other changes to family medicine are making them consider leaving the province to practice medicine.