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Quebec's proposed health reform would complicate access for English speakers: petition

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As the end of Quebec's parliamentary session approaches, there are growing concerns that the province's proposed health-care reform will leave English speakers in the dust.

A petition brought forward by Liberal MNA Jennifer Maccarone argues Bill 15 would jeopardize access programs that guarantee adequate health and social services in English.

And with time running out, she worries the bill is being rushed.

"I don't think the public grasps the magnitude of this bill. The only other article of law larger than this bill is the Civil Code," she told CTV News on Monday.

If passed, Bill 15 would create the Santé Québec agency, responsible for coordinating the health network's operations. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Social Services would manage broader policies and budgets.

It would mean the responsibility of ensuring access for English speakers would fall under Santé Québec.

"That is why the access programs were created [...] so the community works together with the government to develop programs as to how to make sure any local institutions that serve English speakers are able to provide usefulness," said Eva Ludvig, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network.

There are fears that those living in regions without many English speakers would slip through the cracks.

"There is sometimes a gap between what is enshrined in the law and what happens on the ground," said Ingrid Kovitch, chair of the McGill University Health Centre Patients' Committee.

"Centralization in general means that there's likely to be a disproportionate representation in majority rights and interests and that typically comes at the expense of minority rights and interests."

There are still around 400 articles to evaluate in the Bill 15 hearing, and the petition is asking for more time to study the proposed legislation.

"Wait, take a breath. Can we have a conversation about how your idea and model will be deployed instead of rushing the bill through with closure?" Maccarone said.

Health Minister Christian Dubé's office did not respond to CTV News' request for comment, but the minister has stated he wants to pass the bill by the end of the session next week.

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