On September 25, Health Minister Gaetan Barrette, tabled Bill 10 in the National Assembly in Quebec City, which will overhaul the province’s health care system, including cutting about 1,300 managerial jobs over the next three years, saving $220 million per year in an attempt to balance budgets. Bill 10 also radically changes the health system’s structure.
If passed, Bill 10 would eliminate Quebec’s 18 regional health agencies, which currently act as an administrative middleman between the minister and the regional Centre de Sante et de Services sociaux (CSSS). The province’s 182 CSSSs would be reduced to 28 “integrated health centres” or CISSSs; one CISSS will manage each of the 16 health regions, except for Montreal which will have five due to its large population. The Outaouais’ five CSSSs (Gatineau, Pontiac, Papineau, Hautes-Gatineau and Des Collines) will be fused into one CISSS. In addition, Quebec’s 200 administration boards will be reduced to 28.
“You won’t have spats between the CSSS Gatineau and any other in the region – there will be one CISSS” for the Outaouais, said Pontiac’s MNA, Andre Fortin.
Fortin said the reform should not negatively affect patient care and that Bill 10 contains protections to ensure regions have a voice regarding the care offered in their areas. “The bill allows for the creation of advisory committees based on the demands of local communities, and protects foundations such as the Shawville Hospital Foundation, and the Mansfield CLSC Foundation.”
Responding to public fears of “more centralized power” in Gatineau, Fortin maintained the reform is not a takeover of the Pontiac by Gatineau. “Healthcare in the Pontiac is the most high performing across the region, so I hope the Pontiac’s professionals will remain on board so we have an active perspective from the Pontiac, and not only from Gatineau, on our health boards,” he added.
CLSC outlets will remain open. “After April 1 when the reforms have gone through, the Shawville Hospital and CLSCs will still be there offering the same services,” promised Fortin, who said it’s too early to assess any socio-economic impact of the reform on the Pontiac’s depressed economy.
"We don’t know the exact number who will be affected by this measure in the Pontiac,” Fortin admitted, without explanation. “If there are people who are performing well inside the system, they will remain, but obviously there will be a reduction in the number of people we need to work in hospital bureaucracies,” he speculated.