August 24, 2018 12:09 pm
Updated: August 24, 2018 8:30 pm

New Liberal candidate spells the end for Gaétan Barrette as health minister

Fri, Aug 24: Gaétan Barrette has been a controversial figure during the past four years – but his time as health minister is running out. As Global's Raquel Fletcher reports, the Quebec Liberals and the CAQ presented candidates with the potential to be the next minister of health.

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After four years, Gaétan Barrette will no longer be health minister if the Quebec Liberals form the next provincial government.

Leader Philippe Couillard has instead tapped Getrude Bourdon, who resigned from her role as the CEO of the Laval University hospital to run as a candidate in the riding of Jean-Lesage, to take on the crucial portfolio.

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“In 2018, it’s time for a new era, a new perspective,” said Couillard on day two of the provincial election campaign.

READ MORE: Quebec health minister called ‘arrogant,’ blamed by opposition for nurses’ exhaustion

The move to replace Barrette — who has been criticized for his approach to the healthcare system — comes as the Liberals fight for a second consecutive mandate amid polls that continue to place them in second.

During his time at the helm of healthcare system, Barrette has always been supported by Couillard — even if he wasn’t the most popular minister in the eyes of the Quebec public.

“I have never seen a health minister achieve what he has achieved,” said Couillard on Friday.

Barrette’s healthcare reforms have been criticized by Quebec’s ombudsman. Last summer, a Mainstreet poll found that 55 per cent of anglophones disapproved of how Barrette handled problems at the MUHC after 10 board members resigned at the same time.

In February, the third opposition party, Québec Solidaire, organized a march to pressure the Liberal government to toss Barrette. Their petition demanding the same collected 50,000 signatures.

Gaétan Barrette has been roundly criticized for his handling of the Quebec healthcare system.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

A Leger poll in March of this year found that two-thirds of Quebecers surveyed thought he was doing a “bad job.” Barrette has also been criticized for not providing enough baths to seniors in care homes and escalating a conflict with the province’s nurses.

While the former radiologist will not be returning to the role, Couillard promised to make him treasury board president if the Liberals are re-elected.

Barrette, for his part, was quick to show support for Bourdon. He told a crowd of reporters she was more than qualified for the job.

“She is a top administrator of our health care system,” Barrette said. “She is at the top of five university hospitals in Quebec City. Those are big hospitals.”

READ MORE: Minister says Quebec ER doctors should work more

Courted by the CAQ

Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault confirmed on Friday that Bourdon has turned down an offer to run for his party.

That’s when the CAQ approached another candidate in the same field: Danielle McCann. She is the former CEO of the Montreal health and social services agency and is the CAQ candidate in Sanguinet.

READ MORE: CAQ’s Legault offers Quebecers ‘middle way’ as election campaign begins

The CAQ also hinted McCann could be a health minister if that party forms the next government — but Legault said he will not reveal the makeup of a potential cabinet before the election.

With files from the Canadian Press

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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