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New Sante Quebec agency will let patients know their waiting list status, says health minister

Barely 24 hours after tabling a bundle of some 150 amendments to his reform of the health-care network, Health Minister Christian Dubé had another one in store for parliamentarians on Wednesday morning. This time, the government wants to ensure that Santé Québec keeps patients well informed about their place on various waiting lists.

Whether it's surgery, a consultation with a specialist or youth protection services, each request for service will be prioritized. Then, depending on the situation in the patient's region, they will be told what the average waiting time will be.

In addition, the minister wants the future agency in charge of health network operations to keep patients "informed of the progress" of their requests. In other words, they want to introduce a process that will let patients know whether or not they have made progress on the waiting list.

In response to numerous questions from the opposition, Dubé emphasized his intention to ensure Santé Québec informs patients of their priority level, average wait time and the progress of their file.

Liberal MNA André Fortin argued for the addition of a periodic updating requirement, which was not accepted, but which could be determined by regulation.

The adoption of articles 62 and 63 gave the members of the Commission de la santé et des services sociaux a bit of a hard time, since elected officials see them as a real way of improving access to care.

"We haven't finished swallowing yesterday's 150 (amendments) when we're being asked to digest a new one this morning. It's not easy to work under these circumstances," pointed out Québec solidaire MNA Vincent Marissal, noting that the articles concerned are "hyper-important."

The MNA for Rosemont also questioned the minister's intentions with regards to his approach, asking if the aim is simply to inform patients, or to give them better access to care?

"For me, this new article will not only inform patients, it will assess them," replied Dubé, before adding that he would like to "measure access," since this is the priority.


In addition, private service providers who have signed an agreement to provide care covered by the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) will be obliged to respect a single waiting list managed by Santé Québec.

The future publicly-run organization will determine the access mechanisms leading to a service, and specialized medical centers or other private clinics will have to comply.

"(If a specialist) has guaranteed us a block of surgeries, he must take patients in the order determined by the network," said Dubé during an exchange with opposition spokespersons during detailed study of the bill.

This obligation, the minister says, will put an end to certain situations where doctors who work in both the public and private sectors favour certain patients.

At the same time, the minister also mentioned ongoing negotiations with doctors' federations to facilitate patient referrals from one region to another. If there is no waiting time for the same service in a neighbouring region, a patient could be sent there with their consent. According to Dubé, this is not possible now.

The analysis of each section of the bill to make the health and social services system more efficient continues on Thursday. Earlier this week, the minister warned that the bill must be passed before the end of the parliamentary session in December. By late Wednesday afternoon, the committee had reached section 66. The initial version of the bill contained 1180 articles before amendments were added.

The Canadian Press health content is funded through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. The Canadian Press is solely responsible for editorial choices.

This report was first published in French by The Canadian Press on Aug. 23, 2023. Top Stories

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