Why Reform? Just Fix It!

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The government has announced another health reform, this time creating a new agency – Santé Québec – that will “oversee the public healthcare system” according to an article published in the Pontiac Journal, April 19. The problem with the newly proposed Santé Québec agency is that it will be headed by the provincial government’s hand-picked businessmen.

This raises a lot of questions and concerns. A health reform, announced with great fanfare, which doesn’t promise concrete objectives given the inadequacies in the current system, must be viewed with skepticism. But local voices must get in on the action.

Barely 10 years ago, the Liberal government announced the Barrette health reform. There is no doubt that Quebec’s health care system has been run into the ground since then in spite of the promise of 50 super clinics and a family doctor for everyone. Instead, Quebecers have been treated to cuts in services, depleted health service resources, and an increase in management positions at CISSSO.

Improvements to our health care services must be made through continued cooperation between governments, professionals, and individual Canadians.

So why health reform, again? Why not just go ahead and put the resources where they are needed?

The Pontiac has only half of the doctors it is allocated. This need for doctors should be on the agenda of every municipal council meeting in the Pontiac. The support staff of underpaid nurses, technicians, and secretarial staff are in extremely short supply. Our doctors, nurses and technicians are doing their best, but they do not control the system. Will they be given a voice in this reform?

With businessmen at the helm of reform there is a danger that the government wants to privatize services. Slicing the health service pie in a different proportion between public and private domains does not mean better health care services.

This new Quebec Health Reform may result in the shuffling of management chairs, without true change that brings better medical care to the people. It is essential
that the public voice their concerns and experiences to those leading the reform. One of the obvious failures needing to be addressed is the lack of local control over health services.

Finding an organizational model of health services that respects local judgment and yet fits within a wider mandate is key to a successful outcome.

Previous exercises in health reform in Quebec have ended in futility. If this “Dubé” health reform is to succeed, the people of the Pontiac must raise their voices and demand reform that results in better care. The distant managers at CISSSO will look after their career needs; who will look after the needs of the people in the Pontiac?