QUEBEC CITY – The province has decided to get rid of the body in charge of evaluating how well Quebec’s health care system is working.
The Liberals call it a cost-saving measure, but the opposition insists the government doesn’t want its decisions being questioned.
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“People are leaving. The staff is looking for jobs,” said health commissioner Robert Salois, adding fifty per cent of his employees have already quit, leaving just ten employees.
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Since finding out the office would soon be permanently closed, Salois has been scrambling to publish reports he says are too important not to finish: the latest is a comparative study of wait times in Quebec’s emergency rooms.
Salois’ team also had plans to study home care and doctors salaries.
“We’re so busy right now, trying to rush to finish the different dossiers. We want to go out with a bang,” he said.
The government announced it would abolish the organization in this year’s budget to avoid government waste.
WATCH: The Quebec government is getting rid of the province’s health care commissioner, in charge of evaluating how well the system works. As Global’s Raquel Fletcher reports, the Liberals call it a cost saving measure, but the opposition insists they have something to hide.
The province will save $2.5 million in an $80 billion budget, but Salois said it will lose its independent health watchdog.
“We’re a very independent body. We chose the subject we’re working on and I think, at the end, will be a loss,” he said.
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“For sure, it’s not for saving money,” said Parti Québécois (PQ) health critic Diane Lamarre.
“This institution is the only one who has, in his mission, to evaluate health care performance and we cannot understand why he is suppressing this institution.”
Opposition members said the health minister is getting rid of the office to avoid criticism.
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“We know the way Mr. [Gaétan] Barrette is managing the health system in Quebec, he doesn’t want anybody criticizing what he’s doing,” said Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) leader, François Legault.
“It’s like a King. Mr. Barrette is acting like a king.”
However, the health minister said he’s just trying to prevent a doubling up of resources.
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Another organization called INESSS will now fill the same function.
“At the end of the day, it’s going to be as independent and they will provide the same kind of criticism,” Barrette said.