Quebec health minister meets with MUHC unions following board resignation

Click to play video: 'Quebec health minister sits down with MUHC union leaders' Quebec health minister sits down with MUHC union leaders
WATCH ABOVE: Quebec health minister Gaétan Barrette meets with MUHC union leaders after independent board members resigned this past week. Global’s Gloria Henriquez reports – Jul 13, 2017

Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette sat down with several MUHC union leaders, as well as the users’ committee Thursday.

Union members said the three-hour meeting focused heavily on the government’s budget cuts to health care and how they’re affecting workers at the MUHC.

They said they told Barrette that employees are overworked, under-staffed and can’t continue to provide quality health care under the circumstances.

READ MORE: MUHC concerned about patient care if budget cuts continue

“If workers are sick themselves, how can they tend to the sick?” said Sandra Etienne, head of the union representing MUHC’s health care technicians.

The groups believe they need more resources and should be better represented, so they asked Barrette to give them three seats on the hospital’s board.

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This comes after the health centre’s independent board members abruptly quit earlier this week, citing communication issues with Barrette.

The move liberated 10 of the 18 board seats.

READ MORE: MUHC independent board members resign, cite conflict with health minister

Union members Thursday say they left the meeting with no answers and little comfort.

“The government and the MUHC leadership are not on the same page, nothing is going to change,” said head of the MUHC’s nurses union, Denyse Joseph.

“We’ve asked to see if there’s a transition period. For him [Barrette], his goal is to have members of the board named by the end of the summer, meet with that board – and hopefully with the new board, we will be on the same page.”

Meeting with the users’ committee

The health minister held a second meeting with the Users’ Committee shortly after he met with the unions.

Seeta Ramdass, the committee’s co-chair, said their talk was productive, discussing the committee’s wish to participate in the selection process of the hospital’s new director general as well as the new board members.

READ MORE: McGill University Health Centre users seek improved dialogue between administration and health ministry

“We want someone who will ensure that culturally safe and sensitive health care is provided,” Ramdass said.

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The hospital has been without a permanent leader for about a year now, since Norman Rinfret stepped down.

READ MORE: MUHC head Normand Rinfret to step down

Ramdass said the committee also addressed the long wait times at the hospital and the quality of health care patients receive.

She believes that under the right leader, these issues will be dealt with.

Ramdass also said she supports the unions’ request to the minister to have three seats in the board.

“I think that once we get the right board and the right CEO we’ll start to see change,” she said, adding the committee plans to meet with Barrette again soon.

The health minister declined Global News’ request for comment on the meetings.

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