MONTREAL — Quebec’s health minister has responded to concerns raised by the province’s anglophone community over proposed cuts to English healthcare services.
Speaking at the Liberal Party pre-sessional caucus meeting in La Malbaie on Thursday morning, Gaetan Barrette was clear: he would not accept any merger that would affect anglophone services.
“In no way will I accept any merger or whatever restructuring that will affect anglophone’s care in their own language,” he said. “This will be unacceptable.”
The controversy began when Barrette asked local healthcare providers to examine the services offered and provide options for reducing costs.
“I asked them to think of ways to make economies,” Barrette explained. “The objective is optimization without touching services.”
According to Barrette, his request led to several cost-cutting suggestions, one of which included the merger of the Constance-Lethbridge Rehabilitation Centre with three francophone centres in Montreal.
The concern with the proposed merger is that as Constance-Lethbridge is officially designated under the French Language Charter as an institution that provides services in both English and French, if it merged with the Centre de réadaptation Lucie-Bruneau, the Institut de réadaptation Gingras-Lindsay-de-Montréal and the Institut Raymond-Dewar, it would lose its bilingual designation.
“I understand that people in the anglophone community who are upset today about what they are hearing,” he acknowledged.
“These [suggestions] are extremely theoretical, and the way things are going, I’m quite sure the merger that is proposed will not be accepted.”
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