Specialists threaten to sue Barrette over Bill 20 quotas

The head of Quebec's specialist doctors says her group will sue health minister Gaétan Barrette, if he imposes surgery quotas on specialists without ensuring operating rooms can meet the demand.

Operating rooms closed too often to meet increased demand, federation says

Health Minister Gaétan Barrette reached an agreement with family doctors on Monday, but not with medical specialists. (CBC)

The head of the federation of medical specialists says the group will sue Health Minister Gaétan Barrette if he tries to impose surgery quotas without ensuring operating rooms can meet the demand. 

"How can you ask a doctor to work more if the OR is closed? Tell me, how can you do that?" said Diane Francoeur, head of the Fédération des Médecins Spécialistes du Québec (FMSQ), in an interview with CBC's Daybreak.

"He can give us as many quotas as he wants," said Francoeur, "If there's a shortage of nurses, or no beds... Summer is coming and usually [operating rooms] are closed for two to three weeks during the summer."

According to the FMSQ, the number of surgeries increased by a third between 2006 and 2013. ​

Barrette made a deal with the Fédération des Médecins Omnipraticiens du Québec (FMOQ) to remove patient quotas for family doctors, but the minister has not yet reached an agreement with medical specialists. 

Francoeur denies Barrette's claims that specialists are dragging their feet in negotiations. 

"Dr. Barrette has his way of doing things and if we don't do it at his pace, he's never happy," she said.

Barrette himself is a former president of the FMSQ.