FIQ (Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec)

Health care must not be sidelined

Yes! He’s done it! Jean Charest has had the nerve to call a general election in mid-summer, when thousands of Quebecers are on vacation and when families are preparing for the new school year. He is launching an election campaign at a time when the “student crisis” is far from settled and the Charbonneau Commission will finally be exposing the stratagems of collusion and corruption related to lucrative government contracts. Is this a clever ploy? There’s good reason to believe it!

One thing is certain. There is no lack of issues in the 2012 election campaign. Public affairs commentators agree that the campaign will be dominated by the themes of student demands, corruption, the Northern Plan, with the whole question of exploitation of our natural resources, and, of course, the economy (since the outgoing Premier insists on it so much). These are certainly unavoidable subjects in the current context. At the same time, this must not monopolize the debates. The questions that concern the public and that have a long-term impact on Quebecers’ lives must be put on the agenda of this campaign.

A recent poll by the Institut de recherche en politiques publiques (IRPP) indicates that maintaining a strong health-care system is Canadians’ number one concern. Health is thus one of the themes that the party leaders and their candidates, regardless of whether they aspire to become Minister of Health, will have to raise first. They will have to respond to the public’s concerns when they seek to obtain support.

Instead of accusing each other of being “too” or “not enough” whatever, the politicians will have to tell us why things aren’t going better in health care, after so many health-care reforms and so many election promises.

Why does one quarter of the population still not have a family doctor?
Why are emergency room wait times still far longer than 12 hours?
Why are nearly 100,000 people waiting for surgery?
Why are eldercare services insufficient and often of doubtful quality?
Why are services so poorly organized that nursing professionals burn themselves out trying to maintain the quality of care?

The situation has dragged on long enough! The FIQ has decided to take the bull by the horns and put forward concrete solutions to take care of the health of the population and of nurses, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists and perfusionists. We are going to take advantage of the election campaign to challenge the party leaders on these proposals. To get things moving in the right direction, concrete commitments must be made at the highest level of the party that will form the next government.

To paraphrase the campaign slogans announced this week put it: Enough!. It’s time for a change in health care. It’s up to us to choose… for Quebec!

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