QUEBEC CITY – Nursing staff at the De La Montagne Health Centre in Montreal walked off the job on Thursday to protest against the $1.2 million in cuts they are being asked to absorb this year.
“We are facing a lot of budget cuts and we’re facing a lot of service loss for populations that doesn’t make sense,” said APTS union spokesperson Daniel Dubé.
They’re not the only ones worried.
Nurses in Montreal-North also held a demonstration this week slamming Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette’s proposed $600 million in cuts to the system.
The Parti Quebecois opposition took the issue to the parliamentary commission in charge of studying the health department’s spending estimates.
“We worry about that because we don’t have any good news, only cuts. And those are transversal cuts, they don’t take into account the particularity of each patient,” said PQ Health Critic Diane Lamarre.
Lamarre said it’s unrealistic to think that cuts won’t affect front-line services.
However, Barrette remained unshakeable.
“In cases like De La Montagne and Montreal-Nord yesterday, I checked it out, no services are cut in no way,” he said.
He maintained that it is possible to slash bureaucracy without people even noticing.
“In the previous two years, we did restructuring up to a level of $200 million. Did you see a difference? Nothing. And I don’t think we’ll see a difference in terms of services in the near future,” he said.
“It’s not true that there’s no effect to the population whatever the government says,” said Dubé.
“They are now at the point that they cut services to the population that are essential to the most vulnerable population.”
The Liberal government is expected to begin reviewing the province’s tax system and social programs in the fall.
In the meantime, Montreal nurses have invited the health minister to come and see for himself what his restructuring is already doing to the system.
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