MONTREAL – There were debates at the National Assembly, doctor summits, even a Femen protester, all to oppose Bill 20, that controversial law that would require doctors to take on at least 1000 patients or risk losing a third of their pay.
Monday, a new development: health minister Gaetan Barrette and the Federation of General Practitioners came together to announce a compromise.
“To me this is a historical day,” said Barrette.
The government has decided not to implement Bill 20 for family physicians, if they’re able to ensure that 85 per cent of Quebecers have access to a family doctor by December 31, 2017.
“What more can I ask?,” said Barrette. “I have an end result which is the one I was expecting to get. And I have a date.”
In order to meet that deadline, general practitioners are planning on changing the way they work. They’ll see more patients, and try to be more efficient, spending less time in hospitals, and more time in clinics.
“We have the conditions to be able to reach the goal that we have at the end of 2017,” said Louis Godin, president of the Quebec Federation of Family Doctors.
Still, family doctors aren’t being promised any more money or resources, and that has some family doctors worried.
“In this compromise, this agreement, there’s no tangible commitment from the government about what kind of tools they’re going to be giving us to make access better,” said Dr.Tara McCarty, a family physician “and if we don’t have the right tools we won’t be able to meet requirement.”
She’s worried if they can’t meet their goal, Bill 20 might be implemented anyway in 2018. The minister insists part of today’s agreement involves tracking the doctors’ progress to ensure otherwise.
“It’s a game changer that we are signing today, that we are agreeing upon. It’s a huge game changer,” said Barrette.
A game changer that aims to ensure every Quebecer can have a family doctor, and that family doctors never have to deal with Bill 20 again.