CAQ seeks small wins with promises for improving health care in Quebec

Click to play video: 'François Legault on defensive over Bill 96 on 4th day of election campaign'
François Legault on defensive over Bill 96 on 4th day of election campaign
On day 4 of the Quebec election campaign, CAQ leader François Legault defended his party's new language law, Bill 96. A letter signed by more than 150 business leaders says the legislation presents an enormous threat to the province's economy. So what was Legault's response? Global's Dan Spector reports. – Aug 31, 2022

The Coalition Avenir Québec has decided to play the short game when it comes to election health-care promises, insisting it’s important to make commitments it can keep.

On Day 5 of Quebec’s election campaign, CAQ Leader François Legault promised an additional $400 million to recruit 660 doctors and 5,000 health professionals if he’s re-elected premier. He also blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for his failure to implement last election’s health-care promises — such as ensuring all Quebecers have access to a family doctor.

“It’s only normal that with the pandemic we weren’t able to do what we would have if there hadn’t been COVID, and I think everyone understands that,” he told reporters Thursday in Trois-Rivières, Que. “It’s not unique to Quebec; we see that in other provinces and other countries.”

He was joined by several candidates including outgoing Health Minister Christian Dubé, who said the party is avoiding making false promises on health care to voters. Dubé says voters have become jaded from politicians who have made big health-care commitments and failed to follow through.

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“In health care, there have been a lot of promises that have been made that were not achieved,” said Dubé, who announced a health reform action plan earlier this year.

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One of the keys to that plan is labour, and he said the CAQ will intensify efforts to counter the shortage of health workers by winning them over with small successes that will help bring workers back to the network. He said the goal is to make the public system the first choice for health workers.

There are 11,000 positions unfilled in the public health-care network, but the CAQ says it will hire 27,000 people over the next four years to address retirements and departures.

“There’s no magic solution, but if Quebecers, the patients and health employees see small successes, these successes bring about others that will permit us to bring people back,” he said.

Legault defended his promise to cut income taxes, despite the problems in health care. “I think we need to do both and we’re able to do both,” Legault said.

Meanwhile, Québec solidaire reiterated its promise to offer universal public dental insurance. Party spokesman Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois was in New Richmond, Que., and said the plan would cover 100 per cent of dental care costs for people under 18, for social assistance recipients and for seniors receiving the federal Guaranteed Income Supplement. Those who fall outside those categories could be reimbursed up to 80 per cent of teeth-cleaning costs and 60 per cent for other services such as fillings and root canals.

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READ MORE: Quebec election: Liberal party says candidate’s Montreal office robbed, vandalized

In Sherbrooke, Que., Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade announced plans to eliminate the province’s land transfer tax — also known as the welcome tax — for those buying a first home.

Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon was in Ottawa to sharpen his message on the need for Quebec independence. Standing outside Parliament, St-Pierre Plamondon enumerated the failures of the Legault government’s negotiations with the federal government, on issues such as health transfers and immigration.

It’s not the first time the PQ campaign has ended up in Ottawa: in 2018, then-leader Jean-François Lisée delivered a similar message in that city.

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