CAMPBELL’S BAY – At a press conference held Wednesday, December 13, the regional organization Santé Outaouais 2020 released the results a recent study on the effects the Barrette Health Reforms has had on health services in the Pontiac; their findings paint a picture of reduced local services, less local control and more dissatisfaction among the public.
Andrew Gibson, president of Santé 2020, said the study, which began in March 2017 and finished in November, was intended to reflect the views of users of the health system and the CISSSO; authors included Gilbert Langelier, vice-president, Michel Légère, former mayor of Hull, and Paul-Emile Leblanc. The report, “The Barrette Reform in the Pontiac, A Model System Dismantled”, outlines ten
recommendations; the authors hope these will spur further dialogue in the community, with Légèr adding: “It was time to ring a warning bell.”
In 2015, Quebec’s Health Minister Gaétan Barrette unveiled Bill 10, a complete overhaul of the province’s healthcare system, which, among other things, re-organized the administration of regions into a more centralized system. The result for the Pontiac was the merger of their highly acclaimed, locally administered CSSS with four others in the region to create the Gatineau based CISSSO. One of the stated objectives of the Bill 10 reforms was to
simplify the access to services and improve quality of health care.
The authors found that the loss of local management was one of the main reasons for a reduction in services; decisions following centralization meant that specific
needs of users were not taken into consideration because managers were not familiar with Pontiac’s “rural reality”. Mr. Gibson noted that it’s easier to cut services when one is far removed from the clients, and that the previous administration was able to respond quicker to changing needs.
Mr. Gibson noted that while it was impossible to turn back the clock, it was important to find ways of strengthening services based on characteristics from the pre-reform model. Recommendations from the report include a schedule and a framework for evaluating performance, effective consultations for both the public
and employees, additional resources for youth and mental health and local representation on the board of CISSO. They acknowledged recent initiatives on improved services in the areas of senior support and home support but noted the need for additional resources in these areas as well.
Jane Toller, MRC Pontiac Warden, Mme. Charlotte L’Ecuyer, former MNA, Dr. Thomas O’Neill from the Pontiac Community Hospital, and Josey Bouchard of the Pontiac Voice were present; Mme Toller said she would bring the report to the attention of the MRC mayors and discuss how the MRC could help. Dr. O’Neill commented that bringing specialists to the Pontiac to serve many patients at a time would be a better model than having patients travel to the Gatineau hospitals to meet specialists there.
Santé 2020 was created in 2008, as a non-partisan, non-governmental organization with the mandate to contribute to the development of awareness of regional health issues. (LL)