Quebec is planning to cut the number of medical specialists who work in the new McGill superhospital by 10 per cent, CTV News has learned.

The MUHC currently employs 850 doctors, but the health ministry has proposed eliminating the positions of 85 medical specialists – cardiologists, oncologists and other specialists across the adult and pediatric spectrum.

The ministry said the decrease is due to wanting to invest more resources in community hospitals like the Lakeshore General, and fewer in the MUHC and the CHUM.

Last February, the MUHC proposed raised the number of specialists by 20 doctors.

“We were told that there would be a decrease of 85 positions at the MUHC,” said Dr. Ewa Sidorowicz, director of professional services for the MUHC.

It's part of the government's plan to offer treatment closer to patients' homes.

Health Minister Gaetan Barrette has said he would like to provide more resources to CLSCs and smaller community hospitals.

What will this mean for the MUHC?

“We are concerned about ensuring access to the clinical care at the MUHC,” said Sidorowicz. “We also have a very strong teaching mandate for multiple learners at the MUHC, and we also have a strong clinical research mandate. We have to fulfill all three of them and that requires a robust cohort of physicians.”

The health ministry confirms the cuts in staffing levels will be manageable, because the MUHC and CHUM will become more tertiary-care facilities, meaning they would deal with more complex medical cases.

To do that, the MUHC needs to keep recruiting top-notch doctors and they say cutting staffing levels makes that hard.

“In the discussion I will be having with the ministry, that will be clearly brought to their attention because I do feel bad in some areas. We are potentially causing some challenges to recruitment in the future,” said Sidorowicz.

The cuts are supposed to happen by attrition.

The health ministry is also cutting 10 per cent of the CHUM's medical specialists.

No one from the health ministry was available to talk about the matter Wednesday.

The MUHC said they're still discussing the plan with the government and are still hopeful they'll be able to convince the health minister to not reduce staffing levels so drastically.