New Liberal candidate spells the end for Gaétan Barrette as health minister
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.
“In 2018, it’s time for a new era, a new perspective,” said Couillard on day two of the provincial election campaign.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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