Quebec’s front-line health care organization continues to be a popular topic of conversation, including in the recent Institut de recherche et d’informations socio-économiques’ publication (IRIS), and in questions to the National Assembly. Over the last weeks, the buzz is about Quebec’s Ministry of Health’s bias toward its super clinics and the resulting widespread sense of unease that we brought to light.
The unease was first and foremost generated by the secret agreements. Unable to deliver on his promise to open 50 super clinics, Gaétan Barrette has once again made a pact with doctor entrepreneurs. In addition to releasing super clinics from the obligation of staying open 84 hours per week, the Minister is allowing doctors to personally hire healthcare professionals outside of CISSSs and CIUSSSs. The Minister, without holding any consultations, is redirecting funds intended for public services to private entrepreneurs who own for-profit organizations, while depriving healthcare professionals of job opportunities. This umpteenth attempt at privatizing front-line care is deeply troubling.
Moreover, a number of healthcare professionals will be serving a private business’s interests rather than the public’s. This is especially significant for nurses who will have to juggle their boss’s financial interests, providing safe care and their professional independence. In the public network, healthcare professionals who see things that go against their code of conduct can rely on processes and representation so that these things can be remedied. How will a nurse hired by a doctor-entrepreneur in a super clinic be able to find the support to speak out against unacceptable situations?
It’s a double standard. When the FIQ actively supported the opening of the SABSA clinic in Quebec City, it was on the mandatory condition that the associated healthcare professionals come from the public network. It was crystal clear and couldn’t have been any other way because of the institutions’ responsibility to the public—and everyone agreed, even the Minister. Now, a few months later, why is this logic no longer valid when it comes to super clinics and the Minister’s doctor colleagues?
In light of this growing unease, when your main concern is the public health and social services system, you have no choice but to speak out loud and clear against these repeated attacks and inconsistency.