Health Minister Christian Dubé's health plan and the resulting "mammoth" bill to create the Santé Québec agency involve changes that are too rapid and too profound to be implemented without real citizen consultation, a coalition said on Thursday.

The group, Riposte au Plan santé, wants to "stop the machine."

Dubé had promised to "shake the pillars of the temple" with his new reform, so he was expected to face opposition.

On Thursday, the coalition, which brings together dozens of organizations, held a news conference to share its criticism of the health and of Bill 15, the Act to make the health and social services system more efficient.

Among the groups opposed to the reform are the Coalition Solidarité Santé, les Médecins québécois pour le régime public, le Regroupement des aidantes et aidants naturels de Montréal and la Ligue des droits et libertés.

The organizations denounce what they consider to be a retreat from the population's right to health care and a democratic retreat from the system. They say they are sounding the alarm so that the population realizes the extent of the changes to come.

They see it as an attack on the foundation of the public system such as free access, universality and accessibility.

The coalition is calling for a true public and democratic debate on health care. For them, the proposed transformations are major and require consultation and citizen participation on a par with what is required.

The groups are also concerned about the acceleration of privatization of the health care system and are calling for it to be halted. For Dr. Arnold Aberman, co-spokesperson for Riposte au Plan santé, the private sector will only siphon resources from the public sector.

"There's one pool of health-care workers in Quebec. It's a pie and if you take a piece of it and put it in the private sector, there are fewer workers in the public sector," he said.

He added that the objective of a private enterprise is the pursuit of profit and that we will inevitably see a multiplying of accessory fees in private clinics, which section 456 of Bill 15 could allow.

"The private sector is not there to provide free care, it is there to make a profit and it will find ways to make a profit," said Aberman.

"If private health-care worked to solve all the issues we face, we would know about it," added Laurence Guénette, of the Ligue des droits et libertés. "It's not completely new, privatization has been happening little by little for the past 20 years."

She offered a reminder that even if it is free for the user who is sent to the private sector by a public establishment, it is still the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) that pays the bill and therefore the taxpayers. If this bill is more expensive for the private sector, as certain studies have shown, why take this route collectively, she wondered.

PL-15 provides for the creation of a Crown corporation, Santé Québec, which will be responsible for coordinating the operations of the Quebec health-care network, while the ministry will retain its role of determining its direction and allocating budgets.

While he recognizes the need for a plan to correct the many flaws in the current system, Aberman believes that "the regressive aspects (of Dubé's Health Plan) far outweigh the benefits.

In order to make its voice heard, the coalition has designed a series of posts denouncing aspects of the Dubé reform. These messages are expected to circulate primarily online and on social networks.


Minister Dubé's office responded to the coalition's release by reaching out to the groups and inviting them to make their voices heard during the consultations that will take place at the national assembly.

"We will take the time to hear from all of our partners, as well as the people on the ground. As Minister Christian Dubé has said on several occasions, the bill we have tabled can be improved and we are reaching out to our partners and the opposition in order to make it better,'' it said in a written statement."

Minister Dubé's office is assuring that "the principle of universality" is at the heart of the government's vision for health care and that "we will never compromise."

It was noted that the private sector already exists through family medicine groups and pharmacies. It was felt that private clinics can "contribute to the public system effort."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on April 13, 2023.

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