Overnight drama in Quebec: Government fast-tracks major healthcare reform

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In a move that will likely go down in history, the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government triumphantly passed its sweeping health-care reform legislation, Bill 15, in a dramatic pre-dawn session. The bill, which centralizes much of the province’s healthcare decision-making in the new entity, Santé Québec, was adopted at 5:15 a.m. at the National Assembly, sealing the fate of healthcare in Quebec.

This adoption, amidst an electronic vote with 75 in favor and 27 against, is the culmination of intense overnight debates and marks the fifth time the government has invoked closure since its rise to power in 2018. The CAQ government’s decisive action to end debate and fast-track the bill’s adoption, a move known as invoking closure, has sent shockwaves through the province.

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Health Minister Christian Dubé, in a post-adoption news conference, stated that Bill 15 aims to make the healthcare system more efficient, citing quicker access to medical specialists and addressing regional disparities in hospital access.

Historic Healthcare Reform in Quebec: CAQ Government Pushes Through Bill 15

Historic Healthcare Reform in Quebec: CAQ Government Pushes Through Bill 15

Santé Québec, the central figure of this reform, will oversee all activities related to the public health-care system, including service provision and access facilitation. This marks a significant shift in Quebec’s healthcare management, with the agency becoming the sole employer and integrating existing networks under a unified umbrella.

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However, the bill’s passage has not been without its detractors. Leaders from the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) and Fédération de la Santé du Québec (FSQ-CSQ) have vehemently opposed the bill, criticizing the government’s approach and expressing concerns about the increased privatization of healthcare.

The bill’s passage has also raised alarms about labor relations and job categorizations in the healthcare network, with fears of further disruptions looming. The AGESSS, representing administrators in the health-care system, has voiced its concerns about being absorbed under Santé Québec and the lack of limitations on the health minister’s powers in the bill.

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The passage of Bill 15, amid such a charged atmosphere and against opposition parties’ wishes, underscores the CAQ government’s determination to reshape Quebec’s healthcare landscape. This pivotal moment in Quebec’s political and healthcare history has set the stage for extensive changes in the province’s healthcare system, with the potential to impact every resident’s life.

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