“I am not a number” movement Family doctors mobilize against Bill 20

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Laurent
Robillard-Cardinal

The outcry continues from medical professionals over Health Minister Gaétan Barrette’s Bill 20. On March 2, The Fédération des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec (FMOQ) visited Gatineau
during a province-wide tour
to denounce the controversial bill.

Laurent
Robillard-Cardinal

The outcry continues from medical professionals over Health Minister Gaétan Barrette’s Bill 20. On March 2, The Fédération des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec (FMOQ) visited Gatineau
during a province-wide tour
to denounce the controversial bill.
“The FMOQ feels it is crucial to inform Quebecers of the risks associated with the eventual adoption of Bill 20. The bill, which was dreamed up and sponsored by Minister Barrette can only, in the long run, serve to dehumanize family medicine by imposing quotas when
empathy and sound medical practice should prevail in any circumstance. The goal of our campaign is to send a clear and straightforward message, with a call to engage in dialogue so that we can find real solutions
to improving access to health care,” said Dr. Louis Godin, FMOQ President.
With this provincial tour, the FMOQ has launched the “iamnotanumber.ca” website to outline the undesirable outcomes the federation believes Bill 20 will generate. For
example, the FMOQ argues the bill, by imposing quotas, directly threatens the quality of care, turning family medicine into an assembly line. The FMOQ also maintains that the unrealistic quotas will limit the time that doctors are able to dedicate to each patient and will create
new problems of accessibility for those requiring particular attention. The FMOQ also argues that Bill 20 runs the
risk of triggering a wave of departures towards early retirement. For West Québec, Bill 20 could trigger an exodus of
medical professionals towards Ontario, says the FMOQ.
“With the mathematical, coercive and aggressive approach the Health Minister has taken, the government is endangering access to quality primary care. To this day, instead of working with health professionals to find realistic solutions on improving access to care, Minister Barrette has
preferred to work in isolation, demeaning the work of family doctors and insisting on proposing solutions that not only will not work, but also cause
damage. Family doctors want to improve access to health care and are ready to work toward this goal. If the government wishes to do likewise, it should act in good faith and withdraw Bill 20 and focus on collaborating with doctors instead of
pushing through initiatives that are doomed to failure,” stated Dr. Godin.
According to the Liberal
government, Bill 20 aims to optimize the utilization of the medical and financial resources of the health system with a view to improve access to family medicine and specialized
medicine services.
Over the years, the annual average salary for family
doctors considerably increased, yet many Quebecers remain without a family doctor. In 2005, the annual average salary was $132,119 and eight years later
it reached $240,538.