QUEBEC CITY – Concern is mounting over Bill 10, the government’s proposed health-care reform.
Hearings into the new piece of legislation began Monday in Quebec City and anglophones are paying particular attention.
Jean Robert, President of the Jeffrey Hale Hospital Foundation told Global News the 150-year-old Quebec City establishment is suddenly feeling very fragile.
“We’re a small, small partner here,” he said.
“We’re afraid that we would be lost in this sea of bigger institutions.”
The Couillard government wants to cut bureaucracy by merging health-care institutions and their boards of directors.
Jeffrey Hale, for example, would be taken over by an “integrated centre”, in a city where anglophones make up only 2% of the population.
“Currently within the structure of Jeffrey Hale, there are 10 members who come from the anglophone community,” said Voice of English-Speaking Quebec (VEQ) President Taylor Ireland. “Under the current bill, as it’s been tabled, we would likely see that diminishing to possibly 0 and best case scenario 1, but on a rotating structure.”
Video: Who’s affected by Bill 10?
Fear is growing the community could lose Jeffrey Hale altogether.
“If for some reason we say this is really no longer our hospital, yes it is in name, but it’s just not part of who we are anymore. Then the Foundation starts to question whether we should be putting millions of dollars, it’s not just $150, it’s millions of dollars invested in St. Brigid’s Home, Jeffrey Hale,” said Robert.
Sylvia Martin-Laforge will be responsible for voicing all of these concerns and more at the National Assembly.
Her Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) is the only anglophone group invited to take part in the consultation.
Watch: Sylvia Martin-Laforge on Bill 10
“This is a very important bill,” she said.
“I mean, this is shock therapy to the health and social services system.”
Laforge will present her brief on October 30th. Until then, she and Ireland plan on following the hearings very closely.
The impact on Quebec City’s small English community, said Ireland, could be potentially huge:
“It starts at the board level, then it filters down to our volunteers and fundraising…it affects our ability to attract newcomers.”
Despite assurances from the minister that rights will be protected, anglophone leaders are looking for more. They want guarantees, in the bill, that English representation and services will be maintained.
Hearings continue this week.