By Robert Frank
Worried constituents lit up the phone lines at Chomedey MNA Guy Ouellette’s office last week.
“Many Laval residents go to Montreal for health care service,” he told The Suburban in an interview. “We received calls advising us that they had been told that they will henceforth have to get those services in Laval because, in the near future, it won’t be possible for them to obtain those services at hospitals in Montreal.”
As reported in the accompanying article, those hospitals are desperate to shed patients because Quebec Health Minister Réjean Hébert has told them that he will be cutting their budgets to redistribute the funds to outlying regions, starting April 1.
Ouellette noted that controversy over the move last week prompted Hébert to parachute in Patricia Gauthier to take over as CEO of Montreal’s regional health care authority, known as ASSS Montreal.
The departure came as a surprise because Gauthier’s predecessor, Danielle McCann, still had two years left in her four-year appointment.
Ouellette believes that partisan politics motivated Hébert to oust McCann, because the Parti Québécois is spoiling for an election.
“How can the Parti québécois justify doing so?” he asked rhetorically. “Gauthier’s previous job was as head of the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Sherbrooke—in Hébert’s riding.”
Last Thursday, ASSS Montreal abruptly cancelled an interview with The Suburban to discuss how regionalization plan will be implemented. Health care officials initially wanted to stall until Feb. 20—the date the Quebec government will table a budget—to discuss details. They now say that they are prepared to do so Feb. 26—a date that many observers anticipate a provincial election will be called.
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