Barrette defends health care reforms as he puts brakes on changes
Quebec's Health Minister Gaetan Barrette is defending his many health care reforms – but said he won’t be making any more in the coming months.
“The reforms that were to be put in place have been put in place. That's the reality. In terms of reforms, laws, regulations, whatever word you want to use, it is done,” he said.
Barrette has opened up the province's 24th superclinic – all of which were designed to increase access to doctors and reduce ER wait times.
He says from Bill 10 (which abolished regional health agencies and cut managerial jobs) to Bill 20 (which imposed patient quotas on general practitioners), the changes were hard but productive and now no more reforms are necessary.
The health minister’s reforms have provoked criticism from those inside and outside the health care system.
PQ leader Jean-Francois Lisee said, however, the damage has been done and the timing of Barrette putting on the brakes is obvious electioneering.
“What we saw with the nurses and the burnout rate - which is enormous - it will take time to repair this damage. So the only good news is that he will not compound the damage with other ill-conceived reforms in the next eight months,” said Lisee.
Barrette is currently in talks with the nurses' union to address the problem of burnout as the nurses’ union argues that issues like mandatory overtime has caused low morale and difficulty filling vacant posts.
“We've never seen such a high amount of complaints, and even employees are starting to call our office and say ‘You guys fight for the dignity of patients, why don't you fight for the dignity of employees?’ If the employees are not happy, guess what happens to patients?” said patients’ rights advocate Paul Brunet.
While 1 million more Quebecers have access to a family doctor than in 2014, Barrette admitted the government still hasn't met its 85 per cent target.
“At this very moment, we are 200,000 people away from the target that we have determined. So if the target has to be raised, if the population is asking for more, we will raise it,” said Barrette.