Quebec health minister planning overhaul of health network

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé promised that his planned overhaul of the province’s health-care network would shake the system to its foundations.

During his speech at the Center hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM), the minister said the reform would require collaboration from all facets of the health network.

“I’m telling you right now, in two weeks the pillar of the temple will — I was looking for a better word — but it’s going to ‘shatter,'” he said.

“Why? Because it’s everyone who has to contribute. We will ask a lot, but from everyone,” Dubé said, naming unions, doctors and managers.

He said he expects to live “more difficult moments” after this bill is introduced.

Dubé made the statements Monday at a forum organized jointly by the CHUM, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal and the Quartier de l’innovation en santé.

The event aimed to highlight private companies’ capabilities of benefiting health care.

Throughout his speech, the minister stressed the need to innovate not only in terms of technology, but in terms of process — how to coordinate within the vastness of the health-care system.

Dubé’s proposed Santé Québec agency, which would be responsible for coordinating the operations of the health network, is an election promise made by the Coalition Avenir Quebec.

The agency would supervise the daily operations of the CISSSs and CIUSSSs, while the Health Ministry would focus on establishing and maintaining general policies.

When this promise was announced, the CAQ explained that the ministry “should not be responsible for both the planning and the day-to-day operation of the network.”


Referring to the ongoing collective agreement negotiations in the health-care sector, Dubé invited the unions to do things differently.

“We need to have collective agreements that are more up-to-date,” he said, referring to the work contracts of nurses and orderlies. “I’m not blaming anyone, I think it’s everyone’s fault, but we have incredibly rigid collective agreements.”

In the eyes of the health minister, until collective agreements reflect the current reality that demands a better work-life balance, staff will continue to turn their back on the public system.

“Now that we’ve got that figured out, I’d like to have the cooperation of all the unions,” he said, relying on Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel to “improve” the collective agreements.

The other fundamental element of Dubé’s strategy is the digital transformation of the network.

Referring to the ongoing chaos at Quebec’s auto insurance board (SAAQ), Dubé said the government will learn from its mistakes to ensure a more successful digital transition in the health system.

The minister would also like to take advantage of the opportunity to recover the digital identities created by Quebecers at the SAAQ to use them in their health records.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on March 13, 2023.