The opposition had much to say about Christian Dubé’s health plan.
But out of all that was said, “good” was not a word politicians used.
“The elephant gave birth to a mouse,” Quebec Liberal leader Dominique Anglade said when describing the plan.
For the Liberals, the government’s decision to backtrack on its promise to ensure a family doctor for every Quebecer is a tremendous mistake.
“Science tells us that in order to avoid people going to emergency rooms, you need to make sure they have access to a doctor, even if it’s not the doctor who sees them every single time but at least having something that is consistent,” said Anglade.
Instead, the minister is proposing that other health professionals such as nurses, paramedics and pharmacists be given more powers and creating a front-line access point where you would call a professional who can dispatch you to a specialist if needed.
The Parti Québécois agrees that’s not enough.
“It’s shallow, it’s communications that it’s not backed by precise amounts, sometimes by amounts that don’t fit the narrative such as for health care at home,” said Parti Québécois leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.
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With eight months before the next provincial election, Quebec Solidaire called the plan “electoral” and pointed to an important oversight.
They say it’s not possible to improve access to care when there is not enough staff.
“Right now it looks more like marketing stunts, catchy lines,” said Vincent Marissal, the party’s health critic.
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Marissal also deplored the fact that the plan is relying on the private sector by handing over some surgeries to private clinics.
He says the government is “socializing the cost, but privatizing the benefits” and he warns Quebecers not to be fooled.
“It’s going to cost more,” Marissal said.
To make his plan work, Dubé needs to get several pieces of legislation through the national assembly, including Bill 28, a plan to end the state of emergency; Bill 19, which seeks to improve information sharing in the health-care system; and Bill 11, which deals with family doctors’ schedules.
That has opposition parties wondering whether the government will have to invoke closure to transform this plan into law before the fall election.