Quebec unions ask that Bill 10 be scrapped

Quebec health minister Gaetan Barrette responds to concerns over possible reduction of healthcare services in English in the province. Jacques Vachon/Global News

QUEBEC CITY — The last day of Bill 10 hearings began with unions prescribing drugs for Health Minister Gaétan Barrette.

About 25 protesters stood outside the National Assembly shaking fake bottles of pills early Thursday morning.

“His reform plans are botched,” said CSQ President Louise Chabot.

“He’s going way too fast.”

Since October, more than 50 groups have told the minister they’re worried about mergers to save costs.

Bill 10 would see the administration of more than 100 health and social services centres in this province merged into 19 mega structures (CISSS). The minister would appoint board members.

Perhaps most worried are anglophone groups.

WATCH: Sylvia Martin-Laforge on Bill 10

“Our voice isn’t very loud,” said Townshipper’s President Gerald Cutting during his presentation on October 23.

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“So once you start taking smaller institutions where we have representation and then constitute larger and larger boards, our voice will certainly be weaker.”

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A petition launched by the Quebec Community Groups Network collected more than 6000 signatures. The Health Minister spent the day Thursday trying to reassure English-speaking Quebecers by promising amendments.

READ MORESocial media used to highlight ‘side effects’ of Quebec’s Bill 10

“It would be possible to have a CISSS and at the same time maintain the legal nature of all institutions that have that type of legal structure, which is a corporation,” Barrette said.

“We are trying to fit that into Bill 10.”

Barrette promised to pay especially close attention to problems in the regions.

He said he was particularly sensitive to the case of Jeffery Hale Hospital in Quebec City.

“We could include them in a CISSS but leave them with the capacity to manage the most part of their own affairs,” he said.

WATCH: Who’s affected by Bill 10?

As Barrette tried to quiet Anglo concerns, unions were growing increasingly loud.

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“We will fight this bill,” said CSN vice-president Jean Lacharité.

“We need to have a lot of amendments,” added Parti Quebecois MNA Diane Lamarre.

“For now we are not sure we will find a way where access to care, primary care and homecare, will be more confirmed.”

Public consultations on Bill 10 may be over, but the legislative process continues.

The bill is now headed into second reading, after which there will be a clause by clause study.

The minister said he would like to pass this bill before the Holidays in order to keep streamlining the system.

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