Health care regionalization

Where have all the dollars gone?

By Robert Frank

While Quebec Health Minister Dr. Réjean Hébert was adamant that Laval residents will remain free to seek health care wherever they choose, he was more nuanced when The Suburban asked him whether the Parti québécois government plans to cut hospital budgets in Montreal to help fund the cash infusions in Laval and elsewhere in the province that he has announced during the past few weeks.

“Health care funding is always optimized and the money will follow the patient,” he replied. “You heard in [the Feb. 20 provincial] budget that it will be funded based on the level of [clinical] activity.”

“The more radiotherapy a hospital does, the more it will be funded,” the health minister explained. “If Laval does more radiotherapy or surgery, then there will be more funds flowing to Laval; if in Montreal there is less, then there will be less funding.”

“We will fund according to the volume of patients who receive the service,” he said.

Jean Rousselle, who represents Vimont riding, where the Cité de la santé superhospital is located, saw the splash of cash as an election ploy and remained skeptical about where the money to pay for it will come from.

“It’s a shell game,” said the Quebec Liberal Party MNA. “The Parti québécois government cut nurses by 20 per cent. Then they cut hospital budgets. Now, with an election call in the offing, we won’t get a chance to quiz the minister, as we normally would have occasion to do after a budget is tabled in the National Assembly.”

“With the deficit hovering in the air, all these promises are unfortunate,” Rousselle regretted. “We don’t have the money. Unfortunately, there might be some people who are credulous, but most Quebecers are intelligent and will see through these hollow promises.”

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