At the Quebec Liberal Party, we have always considered equal access to healthcare to be a government responsibility. This belief arises from our deep attachment to the concept of public service.
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All throughout our history, we have been behind great advances that shaped the Quebec healthcare system. For example, among our achievements is the establishment of the Quebec health insurance program. Today, our healthcare system is at a major turning point in its history, considering the many challenges it has to face.
Like many Western societies, Quebec is home to an ever-growing population of senior citizens and people with chronic illnesses. Although technical progress is likely to ease the pressure to increase healthcare spending, the Liberal Party deems it necessary to implement reforms that simultaneously offer improved access to healthcare and sound management of public funds. This is precisely what Philippe Couillard’s government is doing with the establishment of a healthcare reform that aims to improve access to care and to social services.
The health of Quebecers has always mattered to us
Before explaining the healthcare reforms implemented by the Couillard government, we should briefly summarize the historical facts of the matter to clear up concerns and avoid misunderstandings.
For 47 years, successive governments have worked to ensure the sustainability of the healthcare and social services system. This is justified by the fact that the national wealth produced is no longer sufficient to cover healthcare spending as it increases exponentially. Thus, one of the main goals was to revise the entire organization of the healthcare network in order to respond to citizens’ growing expectations. Successive reforms have aimed to reduce the number of structures while improving patients’ access to healthcare establishments. The consideration of these two mandates led to the 2003 healthcare reform with the establishment of the Agences de Santé et de Services Sociaux (ASSSs), then to the 2015 reform, with the implementation of CISSSs and CIUSSSs by Gaétan Barrette.
The opening of 50 super-clinics between now and 2018 aims to guarantee better accessibility to healthcare. Through the inauguration of these new facilities, the Liberal Party hopes to free up hospital emergency rooms and guarantee the continuity of healthcare for the population.
The Liberal Party’s constant desire to promote access to healthcare was behind the passing of Bill 20 and the agreement with the Fédération des médecins omnipracticiens (FMOQ), which sets targets for family doctors relating to patient registration and diligence. This undertaking was motivated by the finding that one Quebecer out of four did not have a family doctor. Let’s remember that Quebec is far from experiencing a shortage of doctors. Thus, Bill 20 will increase the proportion of the population who have access to a family doctor to 85%, while ensuring that doctors are available to see their patients. We must find lasting solutions so that all Quebecers have access to quality healthcare.
The Quebec Liberal Party believes it is important to live as long as possible in good health. This is why Philippe Couillard’s government is making several resources available to older Quebecers to facilitate their daily life. In particular, we are talking about measures intended for seniors and their relatives, investment in home-based care and initiatives aimed at rapidly improving CHSLD practices.
A: The Liberal governments of yesterday and today have all made the development of our healthcare system a priority. Here are some of our most recent achievements:
- The reorganization of the health network to simplify patients’ journey through the health system, to make it easier for interdisciplinary healthcare workers to do their work, and to increase the efficiency of healthcare and social service establishments by requiring a reduction in bureaucracy;
- An agreement in principle with the Fédération des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec (FMOQ) on improving access to family doctors;
- An agreement in principle with the Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec (FMSQ) on improving access to medical specialists;
- The establishment of super-clinics that are open 7 days a week, at least 12 hours a day, to enhance access to front-line services.
A: It is incorrect to suggest that cuts have been made. For both health and education, the budgets have not stopped growing since 2014, even with meticulous management of government spending. Since the Couillard government came to power, expenditures on the health and social services portfolios have increased by 5.6 billion dollars. Additional funding was made available to hire over 1,000 more people in Quebec’s CHSLDs, to open new lodgings for seniors with decreasing independence, convalescing patients and the disabled, to increase the number of surgeries and diagnostic exams, and to reduce wait times for services for those with autism and their families.
In contrast, when faced with the challenge posed by out-of-control public finances twenty years ago, the Parti Québécois government reduced healthcare budgets in absolute terms for 3 consecutive years. From 1995 to 1998, the budget for health and social services dropped by 3.3%, whereas it increased by 7.6% during the first 3 budgets of the current Liberal government.
A: Super-clinics will be established all over Quebec. Click here to see the locations of the super-clinics.