After sitting all night, the deputies of the National Assembly finally adopted, early Saturday morning, Bill 15 reforming the health network by 75 votes to 27.
The wish of Minister of Health Christian Dubé was therefore granted. On Friday, he declared that he was “tired” and in a hurry to move on, stressing that his bill had already been the subject of more than 200 hours of study in parliamentary committee.
At a press briefing on Saturday morning, Mr. Dubé was delighted with the adoption of the bill, saying he was convinced that it would have positive effects for patients in hospitals, something which the political parties strongly doubt. opposition.
The minister notably maintained that his reform will give Quebecers better access to specialist doctors.
Furthermore, it will be possible to receive treatment anywhere, regardless of your postal code, and be offered an alternative solution, to another region or to the private network (free), when waiting times are considered unreasonable.
“It’s a great day, because it’s Day 1 of the transition that is beginning and which will lead to the transformation of our large health network,” declared Mr. Dubé.
He also wanted to reassure network employees, who will experience “significant changes” in the coming months. He undertook to “well explain” these changes, in particular what will happen to the Ministry of Health.
Bill 15 notably creates the Santé Québec agency, which will be responsible for coordinating the network’s operations. The ministry will mainly focus on defining the main directions. Staff transfers are to be expected.
Santé Québec will become the sole employer; the CISSS and CIUSSS will be integrated into it. Union certifications will be merged. We are also introducing a single seniority list, which will allow staff mobility from one region to another.
Bill 15 is part of the Legault government’s desire to obtain more “flexibility” from players in the health network, most of whom are currently on strike until December 14 as part of the renegotiation of their collective agreements.
“ [Maintenant que le projet de loi 15 est adopté]I will be able to return to the field, go to hospitals and take care of our employees a little,” said the minister.
The opposition parties vehemently denounced the use of the gag order to adopt this major reform of the health network. During the evening on Friday, they were pugnacious, demanding that the minister explain each of the articles or amendments he adopted.
The parliamentary leader of Québec solidaire (QS), Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, was the last to oppose the adoption of the bill before the vote on Saturday morning.
“It is a bad idea for our democracy, for our health system, for Quebec to impose the biggest reform of public services in the history of Quebec under a gag order. This government has chosen confrontation,” he lamented.
The government had proposed to the oppositions to extend the detailed study of Bill 15 until next week, an implicit “admission” that there remained a lot of work to be done, according to QS MP Guillaume Cliche-Rivard.
The offer was rejected, among other things, because it included a deadline, that is to say the government insisted that the work be completed by December 15 at the latest, even if the 2000 items had not been not all of them have been scrutinized.
“It was a long night. Until the last minute […]there are still several errors that have been raised […] in the few articles that we had time to deal with. This demonstrates that this bill was still highly perfectible,” said Mr. Cliche-Rivard.
Throughout the process, the oppositions also deplored the minister’s inability to answer questions on large sections of his reform, as well as on the amendments that he himself tabled.
Finally, they will have agreed to adopt amendments en bloc, in exchange for improvements in the bill, in particular on the autonomy of midwives, which explains the relative short duration of the gag procedure.
“The 400 articles that we didn’t have time to study […], what effect will they have? » asked the spokesperson for the Parti québécois en santé, Joël Arseneau, at a press briefing on Saturday morning.
According to the interim leader of the Quebec Liberal Party, Marc Tanguay, Bill 15 will not improve patient services.
“It is a bad reform which will not solve the immense problems of access to care. Emergencies are overflowing in Quebec, everywhere, and we could see people who died even in the emergency room and there was a link with the delays,” denounced Mr. Tanguay.
This is the fifth gag order imposed by the Legault government to force the adoption of bills since coming to power in 2018. Parliamentary work was adjourned until January 30, 2024.