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Bill 10: MUHC concerned about new network structure

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On Feb. 7, Bill 10 was passed in the National Assembly of Quebec. The Bill is set to abolish the 18 regional health agencies, which are currently responsible for coordinating the health care and social services of a given area. These include child protection services, elderly care, hospitals, and other additional services. In their place, the bill will re-organise the current Health and Social Service Centres (CISSS) in a way that would seek to fulfill the gap created by the abolition of the regional agencies.

The bill will merge the current 184 CISSS to form 28 new ones, each covering a larger area. The newly administered CISSS’s  will have board members appointed by the Minister of Health and Social Services Gaetan Barrette, and resources will then be allocated to each of the 16 administrative regions of the province. Montreal will have five CISSS’s. 

The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) declined to comment on how the reform will affect its daily operations. However, its administration expressed concerns towards how the Montreal community would be affected by any forthcoming changes to the MUHC as a result of the Bill. 

“Our consultation has revealed considerable concern about the important role our community plays in the governance of our hospitals,” reads the MUHC’s press release regarding Bill 10.

The MUHC also raised questions about its new status as a superregional institution under the Bill and demanded more clarity from Barrette.

“The problem with this is that it is unclear what defines a superregional institution and how it fits into the proposed network structure,” the press release reads.

Even though the MUHC is not directly impacted by most of the effects of Bill 10, the reorganization of resources in the area alters the number of specialists it will be allocated.

“Under a clinical reorganization by the Quebec Health Department, the MUHC would lose 83 specialists over the next five years,” Aaron Deferel reported for Post Media.

Isabelle Lavigne, spokesperson for the Centre Hospitalier de l’University de Montreal (CHUM), declined to comment, saying it is too early to determine how the operations will be affected.  

“The CHUM remains an autonomous facility and we do not know yet how the reform will affect its activities,” Lavigne said.

Associate Professor in Social Work at McGill Delphine Collin-Vézina was invited to appear before the National Assembly committee called the Commission sur la Santé et les Services Sociaux, which is responsible for examining all  health care legislation. The committee examined Bill 10 before it was adopted. 

“We were raising concerns regarding the expertise in assessing child maltreatment cases that could be lost,” Collin-Vézina said.  As a result of Bill 10, local services dedicated to the protection of children will be merged into new CISSS infrastructures.

Paul Thomas, the president of the MUHC workers union (SECUSM-CSN), explained that the reorganization and the mergers complicate labour relationships.  

“We are concerned by the new power this reform gives to the Health Minister,” Thomas said. “If mandates or services are altered, it will force labour reorganization.” 

Thomas continued to explain that the MUHC would not be affected by union mergers, although other health-centres, such as the CHUM, are concerned that smaller unions may lose their voice if merged with larger ones.

“[The MUHC] is excluded from the facility mergers, hence our employees will not have to vote and change union,” Thomas said.  “I discussed with the president of the employees from CHUM, and they will be affected when the Notre-Dame hospital will be integrated with a different sector when the [new site for the] CHUM will open.”

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