New Quebec bill aims to phase out the use of private health agencies – Montreal

New Quebec bill aims to phase out the use of private health agencies – Montreal

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé introduced a bill to limit and regulate the use of private health-care agencies.

He says the goal is to stop depending on the agencies within the next three years.

“I think it’s more solvable in Montreal first than it will be in the region later,” Dubé explained at a press conference.

The plan is to impose a maximum number of hours that a private agency worker can do in certain jobs, to allow only a handful of institutions to hire private agency workers, such as palliative care homes and seniors’ residences and by imposing fines or even criminal charges for those who don’t respect the terms.

Fines can go up to $150,000 for repeat offenders.

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The ministry is also giving itself powers to inspect and investigate institutions.

“We have to stay focused on one thing: get rid of agencies,” said Vincent Marissal, Québec solidaire’s health critic. “If you have all kinds of provisions in the draft bill that allow the minister personally to decide that he will keep agencies, I mean it’s counterproductive.”

Critics say that the bill is only a shell that doesn’t address the crux of the issue.

“None of this can work — you cannot reduce your dependency of agencies unless you have better working conditions,” said Liberal health critic André Fortin.

The province says there are currently 11,278 full time jobs being outsourced to private agencies, which include 2,894 nurses and 2,894 patient attendants.

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Quebec’s largest nurses union, the Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ) says that in order to attract those workers back to the public sector, the government must go one step further and eliminate private agencies for good.

“For us it’s clear the only avenue that will be able to improve the public health-care system, improve the quality of care, is that for all the health-care professionals to work in the public care system,” said Roberto Bomba, FIQ Spokesperson

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Contract negotiations are underway between the public health-care sector and the government.

While Minister Dubé didn’t give details on how exactly he plans to improve workers’ conditions — he says he wants the province to become the employer of choice.

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