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Quebec's health-care reform plan draws backlash from stakeholders

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Quebec's sweeping new health-care planBill 15drew mixed reaction following its announcement Wednesday.

Several health-care professionals say it's a massive undertaking—especially for a health minister who initially said he didn't want reform.

"Big reforms tend to have a very destabilizing effect, and we need a clear implementation plan. [We] can't be told, 'do this and figure it out,'"said Natalie Stake-Doucet, past president of the Quebec Nurses Association.

"It has to be clear how this is going to take place, how these changes are going to be made step by step."

The bill aims to create Santé Québec, an agency responsible for coordinating the day-to-day operations of the health and social services network.

Some medical professionals say this leads to further centralization and not actual local governance.

"It's still going to be a little top-down as far as I can see because they're going to have to report not to a board or board members but to Santé Québec, so I'm a bit suspicious," said Ann Marie Chiquette, interim general director at APER, which advocates for management in the health and social services sector.

Family physician Dr. Paul Saba is also concerned with the centralization of the health-care network. He has fought with the government for several years to keep the Lachine Hospital open.

"They say they want to improve it, it seems like they do want to improve it, but are they going to use their control to scrap smaller community hospitals and take their resources?" he said. "We question really what their authenticity is."

Bill 15 states the right of every person to receive "adequate, continuous, personalized and safe" health care.

One patients' rights advocate says she will wait and see if it actually helps patients get better access to care.

"Our health-care system has to ensure that there is socio-culturally safe and equitable health care to all Quebecers," said Seeta Ramdass, member of the Montreal Children's Hospital family advisory forum.

The reform needs to reflect the diverse population of Quebec and remove all barriers to care, says Ramdass.

"Make sure that you remove those language barriers so that patients can have access to care in the language that they speak, that they understand," she said.

Advocates of all groups say the bill needs to avoid taking a one-size-fits-all approach to ensure the reform's success.

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