Concerns raised as Quebec government entrusts health system management to private sector
The Quebec government's recent decision to entrust management positions at the new Santé Québec agency to business leaders from the private sector has sparked concerns among experts and the general public. The agency, which will oversee the public health system, will be led by individuals recommended by other business leaders.
The government's intention to implement the business community's vision of the health system, which coincides with its own. The move is reminiscent of the 1980s when the government entrusted a working committee, dominated by businessmen, tasked with evaluating government organizations, including the health care system. Among the committee's recommendations were the privatization of hospitals and the abolition of CLSCs.
Critics of the new agency argue that the private sector cannot save the public system, given its historical opposition to the creation of the system and its relentless efforts to erode it. “Minister Dubé is seeking to 'unload' his ministerial responsibility by creating the Agence santé Québec,” believes Liberal MP André Fortin. André Fortin criticized Christian Dubé's suggestion that "to have an additional box in the organization chart of the Ministry of Health" would avoid people waiting on the ground in the emergency room. Fortin sees the creation of the Agence santé Québec as a "civil servant's solution" that Dubé would use to protect himself by rejecting responsibility on others. Fortin also criticized the government's proposals to improve the state of the health network, stating that he does not see anything positive in them.
Dr. Vadeboncouer on Les débatteurs de Noovo stated that certain aspects of privatization in healthcare make sense, “Privatization is one solution but it’s not the only solution. It’s good in the case of certain operations but not all of them. In some cases, having access to it would move things along faster.”
The fact that the government has chosen to call on companies such as IBM, Google, Energir, Pharmaprix, and KPMG to rescue the public system is worrisome but not surprising, given the current composition of the Cabinet. Anne Plourde, a researcher at IRIS and author of the book, Le privé, c'est mauvais pour la santé (Écosociété, 2021), warns that the business community and their political allies bear an undeniable historical responsibility for the degradation of public health care services. The government's decision to entrust the management of the new agency to business leaders raises serious concerns about the future of the public health system in Quebec.