Friday morning, at the Reproductive Centre of the McGill University Health Centre. Each chair is occupied by a woman who wants to become pregnant with the help of science. Élodie Mantha, 33 years old, from Gatineau, is one of them. If they are so numerous, it is because the assisted procreation program – public and free – exists.
Created in 2010, the program was meant to cost 48 million annually. It costs 70 million. This popularity is not a passing fad: from 1992 to 2012, infertility* doubled in Canada – from 8.5% to 16%, one couple in six – for a series of factors that are more or less known.
And the older women are, the more they are infertile and the more they need the helping hand of science to get pregnant.
The anticipated adoption of the project of Bill 10 before the end of the day, thanks to a gag [literal translation, meaning to “invoke closure”, a parliamentary procedure limiting debate to force the passing of a law] decreed by the government, is only one of three steps seeking a major transformation in the health network in the coming months.
Before the parliamentary session even begins next Tuesday, MNAs had to present themselves in the chamber early Friday morning as part of the government’s decision to impose a term on the usual procedure to force the immediate adoption of Bill 10, which would abolish the health agencies and reduce the number of establishments in the network from 182 to 33.
Québec deliberately omitted to take into account work days that they considered as too short to arrive at the conclusion that family doctors do not work enough. This strategy has been judged as dishonest by the Fédération des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec (FMOQ) [federation representing general practitioners].
Minister Gaétan Barrette has been stating, since the end of November, that 60% of doctors work less than 175 days per year, for an average of 117 days. But Québec fused “small days” of work to account only for days that bill for at least $665 of services. This represents a threshold of about seven hours of work and allows doctors to be compared to, for example, teachers, asserts the press secretary of the minister, Joanne Beauvais.
The documents that Le Devoir obtained from the cabinet of the minister in January after a request made in mid-December show in this way that for all general practitioners, the “real” average for all family doctors is rather 196 days of work per year. If we take into account only the 80% best paid doctors, which eliminates doctors working part time, the average climbs up to 216.5 days.
The Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) intends to continue putting pressure during the winter of 2015 in order to slow down the reforms and bill projects of the liberal government in their current forms. Reviving an expression that was associated with the years 1945-1960, the president of the CSQ, Louise Chabot, declared on Friday that Québec is under thread of being resubmerged in a “great darkness”.
Ms. Chabot warns that “the year risks becoming a theatre of important social confrontations if the government does not quickly pull itself together to re-establish a real dialogue with its population and its employees.” She admits to having a challenge of “information and mobilisation” for the next year.
The president denounces especially the governmental measures being proposed in the education, health and childcare sectors, as well as the reductions in financing for cegeps and universities, the abolition of regional health agencies and the modulation, according to family revenue, of fees for subsidized daycares.
These reforms “profoundly attack” the social model adopted in Québec since the Quiet Revolution, she reckons. “In Quebec we have equipped ourselves with a range of services in the name of the common good. If these reforms in education and healthcare are adopted, it will be step back by 10, 15, 20 years,” Ms. Chabot deplored. Continue reading →
The Minister of Health and Social Services (MSSS; ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux) is often compared to an ocean liner reluctant to change course. 2014 was marked by an election and the arrival of a minister who launched several rash reforms that have antagonized the system against a backdrop of cuts. Has the ship’s wheel turned?
Elections, major bills being tabled, a budgetary severity that inevitably must affect services : the year in politics, as far as health care is concerned, has been far from easy. In spite of Minister Gaétan Barrette’s willingness to set the machine in motion, strait into high gear at that, it’s clear that it will be some time before results can be seen.
We should note that several issues have progressed in 2014. In February, under the Parti Québécois government, the Public Mother’s Milk Bank was launched, making the precious resource available to preterm infants. Hema-Québec, which manages the bank, has not had much difficulty in recruiting approximately 300 donors necessary to feed 1000 premature infants. It’s a success: the path is clear to widen the scope of the bank in 2015. Continue reading →