Anglos promised more of a voice for access to health and social services
English-speaking Quebecers will now have more of a voice when it comes to health and social services for the Anglophone community.
Quebec’s health minister announced a new regulation on Monday aimed at addressing concerns that were raised three years ago with the introduction of Bill 10.
The 2015 bill massively reorganized Quebec’s healthcare and social services system, sparking an outcry from the English-speaking community that they would lose a voice due to the elimination of health boards and patients’ committees.
On Monday, several prominent English-rights advocates said they’ve been working closely with Health Minister Gaetan Barrette to address those concerns.
“What needs to happen now is that the members of the Anglophone community who have been complaining that they no longer have representation on boards because we did go from 3,500 to 600 of us - now is the time to step up,” said Judy Martin, Board member of the West Island Health Authority.
The newly announced regulation will create both a provincial access committee and several regional committees.
“What's changed here is the provincial advisory committee is now a committee of our community,” said Eric Maldoff, head of the health and social services committee of the Quebec Community Groups Network.
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Maldoff said the new regulation means the Anglo community’s representation will be enhanced.
“We’ve got the regional committees and the provincial committee. Probably 300 positions, maybe a bit more, for the community to be actively involved in formal statutory roles that are recognized,” he said. “This isn’t improvised, this is for real. The challenge is really for our community, are we going to sit back and complain or roll up our sleeves, take up the challenge and get involved?”
Before Maldoff and the QCGN brokered this new role for the English community, advisory members were effectively appointed by the deputy minister – and the community wasn't consulted.
Now, a revised regulation means the new English access committee will have 11 members, from all regions of Quebec, including at least three from Montreal.
The Quebec Community Groups Network said they will be working closely with the ministry to choose English-speaking representatives for the communities.
“This will improve things and that above all, you will have a voice, you will have a capacity to express your positions at the proper level,” said Barrette. “It's going to be something that's going to be for the long-term.”
New English-language regional committees will also be created by the various institutions with a goal to develop access plans on a range of issues that have legal weight.
“I don't think there's such thing as access if you don't know where the services are and if you don't know what your rights are,” said Maldoff. “I would expect that future access programs are going to address the information side of healthcare.”
Maldoff added that it will also be very important to monitor the process and future government decisions to ensure the community's voice is truly being heard.