English groups worry about loss of health care control
Quebec's plan to eliminate a layer of the health care bureaucracy under Bill 10 is causing a stir, especially in some anglophone health care and social services institutions.
The Quebec Community Groups Network appeared before a national assembly committee on Thursday to argue that Bill 10 will be a catastrophe for anglophones.
Sylvia Martin-Laforge said that by eliminating the boards of directors for anglophone institutions such as the Jewish General Hospital, those hospitals and health care centres will lose a lot of control.
"If the boards are all named by the minister we have a concern that we will not have access to those boards," said Martin-Laforge. "In Quebec the English-speaking community is often not within the structures of influence and so this is one place where we believe that we have to have influence and management and control."
The QCGN gave an example of choosing a human resources manager, a decision that is currently handled by each institution.
With umbrella groups controlling a larger number of health centres, a hospital that wanted a bilingual HR director could end up with a board appointing a unilingual candidate instead, and the decisions made by HR would ultimately change the culture of an institution.
Lucie Desmeules has worked with Anglophone seniors for 21 years and says she knows how important it can be for someone who is frail to feel like they’re understood.
“A resident with cognitive loss already is having trouble to try and understand,” she said.
Desmeules is the senior advisor at St. Brigid's long-term care facility, one of two homes for Quebec City Anglophones.
Richard Walling, vice-president of the board of directors at St. Brigid’s, says the law will change the organization.
“It wouldn't take long for that (character) that we see here today to disappear because it would get flooded by the majority population,” he said.
Health Minister Gaetan Barrette said he was not concerned, and pointed out that anglophones would have representation on the regional health boards.
"A single institution might lose some representation, that's true, but that's true for everybody. If you take Batshaw as an example, Batshaw is complaining about one thing in their specific mission they would like to remain intact, but in terms of representation of the larger anglophone community it will be there," said Barrette.
Anglophones are heavily invested in their health care institutions, from volunteering to donating to management, Barrette pointed out, and all of that will continue because the law will stipulate Anglophones must be appointed to the boards of the new larger umbrella groups.
Political analyst Jean Lapierre said he understands the worries of the community, and cautioned that many people who initially like the idea of eliminating 1,300 administrators might not realize what it means.
"For example in my area (Brome-Missisquoi), now we realize that the hospital would be linked with St. Jean and the South Shore while all our things are done with the Eastern Townships. We would be cutting off 38 percent of the clients that are anglophone, and they would have to come to Longueuil or St. Jean. That doesn't make any sense," said Lapierre.
Only three anglophone groups were given permission to speak at the public hearings out of the more than 60 overall groups that spoke.