MONTREAL, Feb. 9, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - After months of intense and delicate negotiations with Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, Quebec's English-speaking community obtained important changes to Bill 10. These changes to the health reform legislation will preserve many of our institutions despite the loss of their individual boards of directors. They create significant new opportunities for meaningful participation and influence of English-speaking Quebecers in our institutions, and will help ensure that the health and social service network is responsive to the needs of our communities.
"When he tabled Bill 10 in September, Health Minister Gaétan Barrette stated that his goal was to improve access to health and social services through better vertical integration, to enable patients to move through the system more easily, and to reduce costs," said QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge. "It is well known that we disagreed with the elimination of our Boards, which in our view was not necessary to achieve the Minister's stated objectives. We had to face the reality that the Government had decided that eliminating boards was central to its reform. We were confronted with the hard fact that a majority government had the power to enact its legislation with or without our support."
The community's main goals were: to protect access to services in our own language; the continuing participation of our community in the delivery of culturally and linguistically sensitive health and social services; accountability of the institutions to our community; the preservation of the bilingual status of our institutions; the continued existence of the corporations of our institutions and the protection of their assets as well as the rights of their members; and finally an ongoing connection to our foundations, universities and research institutes.
"We are pleased that the Minister demonstrated openness to our concerns and willingness to adopt amendments that are responsive to the needs and objectives of our community. Compared to the original bill, our community made important gains," commented lawyer Eric Maldoff, who was the community's chief negotiator with the Government.
Some of the important changes include granting of bilingual status to two of the integrated health and social service centres, known as CISSSs (Centre intégrés de santé et services sociaux), in the Montreal region; English-speaking representation on every CISSS across the province; two seats for our universities on the boards of university hospitals, an important consideration for McGill University. Moreover, the new advisory committees that were optional in the legislation as first proposed will now be compulsory in all of our recognized bilingual institutions. These statutory committees will be critical watchdogs in ensuring the protection of the social, cultural and linguistic needs of the populations served by their institutions.
The amended legislation also ensures that every Integrated Health and Social Services Centre has an access program for services in English which must include the human resource plan that enables it, and a strengthened access advisory committee. The members of these committees will be representatives of the English-speaking communities of Quebec. Importantly, the regional access committees will have a new role in identifying the people who will sit on boards of the new regional institutions. The legislation also contains important provisions that protect the integrity of our owning corporations which will maintain their veto over any changes to the clinical mission of a given facility, the liquidation of any assets, or any modification of the bilingual status of facilities designated as such under article 29.1 of Quebec's Charter of the French Language.
"We are also very pleased to see that the Minister has understood and addressed the particular situation of Jeffery Hale - Saint Brigid's in the legislation," added Richard Walling, former chair of the Provincial Advisory Committee on English Language Health and Social Services and vice-president of the board of the 158-year old institution. "The measures adopted will ensure that English-speaking residents of the Quebec City area will continue to benefit from the services they need and foster the continued engagement of the community that make Jeffery Hale - Saint Brigid's, the last full-service bilingual institution outside the Montreal region, the very special place it is".
"Now it is up to our communities to be proactive in this new environment," remarked former MNA Clifford Lincoln. "The onus is on us to get involved in the boards of the new institutions, the institutional corporations, user and advisory committees, as well as the provincial and regional access committees. The law provides lots of room for our community to engage as a community. Rights are not meaningful unless you exercise them."
The Quebec Community Groups Network (www.qcgn.ca) is a not-for-profit organization bringing together 42 English-language community organizations across Quebec. As a centre of evidence-based expertise and collective action it identifies, explores and addresses strategic issues affecting the development and vitality of the English-speaking community of Quebec and encourages dialogue and collaboration among its member organizations, individuals, community groups, institutions and leaders.
SOURCE Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN)
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