Legault threatens sanctions as he loses patience with Quebec’s family doctors
MONTREAL -- Premier François Legault is promising to identify and sanction all family doctors who don't work hard enough for his liking.
The Quebec premier argued Wednesday that just like a teacher or a firefighter, a doctor cannot simply decide to work two days a week.
Saying he is fed up with a 'minority' of general practitioners who are not taking on enough patients, Legault said he may legislate to transfer their names to the CEOs of regional health boards, the CISSS and CIUSSS.
“My patience has reached its limit," he said in a press scrum at the National Assembly. “But I would not want to penalize all family doctors, because there is a majority who do a good job and take care of patients, so we must be able to do it doctor by doctor.”
The premier spoke of possible 'accommodations' or 'exceptions' for older physicians, among others.
He acknowledged that his plan is already generating strong reactions from GPs, especially on social networks.
“There is no problem with the majority," he said.
Earlier, the official opposition said it found the premier’s approach "threatening.”
“It's a bit of a panic on board," said Quebec Liberal leader Dominique Anglade at a press briefing. “They realize they don't know how they're going to achieve their goals… The fact that the premier has a list with specific names and is brandishing a sort of 'I have names' is threatening, it's the premier of Quebec. It's disturbing," she added.
On Tuesday, Legault had claimed to have in hand a blacklist of family doctors. He had also said that he himself had helped to distribute the number of general practitioners throughout various regions of Quebec.
For Parti Québécois leader Joël Arseneau, these are two 'disturbing revelations' that say a lot about the government's approach, which is 'a lot of improvisation', he said.
Arseneau said he’s surprised that the premier admitted not knowing 'legally' what can be done with the list of doctors he obtained from the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ).
Legault said Tuesday that he wants to give the names to the heads of regional health authorities to meet with them, but he said he doesn't know if it's legal or not.
The government would thus be trying to bypass the Fédération des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec (FMOQ) to negotiate directly with its members.
“This is a form of interference by the premier in the health-care system that is troubling," said Arseneau at a press conference at the National Assembly on Wednesday.
For his part, Québec Solidaire leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois crticized the fact that the premier has 'boasted' about having obtained the blacklist of 'lazy villains that he will discipline with the whip.'
“We recognize here the Caquist style in its purest expression, that is to say, pointing fingers, finding culprits, in short, making (...) a show of nonsense to avoid taking its responsibilities," he said.
Nadeau-Dubois said he believes the government is attacking the problem of access to health care in a 'superficial' manner.
The party is suggesting a return to an interdisciplinary approach on the front lines. QS says it wants a front line organized around teams of doctors, nurses, psychotherapists, psychologists, social workers, physiotherapists, etc.
“We're in a cul-de-sac," says Nadeau-Dubois, "because the model is broken. And what is the model? It is the Liberal and Caquist model of everything to doctors. This model will never work.”
“We can use all the penalties in the world, take out the biggest bats in our arsenal and then hit, hit and hit the doctors, but it won't work. The solution is not in that model,” he said.
LISTEN ON CJAD 800 RADIO: This is Legault's plan of attack on adversaries. Political analyst Tom Mulcair weighs in
- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Oct. 27, 2021.