FIQ (Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec)

Don’t panic! All this was predictable

The person who told me the news swept into my office. Agitated and somewhat panicked, he told me everything. He brought up the horror of the situation, the chainsaw massacre that was coming. I looked him calmly in the eyes and told him “Don’t panic Peter. All this was predictable”.

Of course, she was talking about the appointment of the members of the Commission de révision permanente des programmes (Commission on the permanent revision of programmes) by the Couillard government, which is supposed to set up an ongoing evaluation process of the priority government programmes. In fact, is it surprising to find, among others, Claude Montmarquette and Robert Gagné, two economists whose vision of the State is unmistakeable.

Remember that Claude Montmarquette is one of the promoters of the cutbacks in expenses during the last budget which turned out to be disastrous. He is also one of the developers of the project to privatize the SAQ, the possibility of selling Hydro-Québec, and the increase in daycare fees.

As for Robert Gagné, he is one of the founders of the Institut du Québec, the economic research organization set up last February by the previous minister, Raymond Bachand. He recently recommended to the government a reduction of 5.2% in expenses for health care, an effort at productivity needed to maintain the services according to the research group.

If I wasn’t surprised to learn of these appointments, it goes without saying that I find the situation ridiculous and less than subtle. We know the political vision of the Liberal government, a little more finesse when the reflection started would have been nice. It is clear for the FIQ that the cuts like those announced in the budget will be detrimental to the quality of care. It is also clear that if the government really has the health of Quebecers at heart, it would first look at the poor management which costs taxpayers millions and millions of dollars every year.

Instead of making those who are the most fragile suffer the dramatic consequences of these cuts, if it was responsible, the government would seriously look at the numerous alternative solutions tabled over the last few years by various groups that the FIQ has been a part of. Think of the Tobin Tax, as well as of the numerous solutions put forth by the nombreuses solutions avancées par la coalition opposée à la tarification et à la privatisation des services publics, and which none of the three previous governments in power in Québec have dared to contemplate.

We can see with these appointments that the deck is stacked. The government will go with the popular discourse of reduction of services, knowing full well that the real financial hole is elsewhere: bad management, tax havens, the fire sale of our natural resources as well as the most recent cuts in healthcare transfers decreed by the federal government. But, the thinkers on the future of the Québec State don’t talk about that.

And you, what do you think about it?