Outgoing health minister Christian Dubé has promised to "de-bureaucratize" the province's health-care network by creating a new government agency to co-ordinate operations, if his ruling Coalition Avenir Québec party is re-elected Oct. 3.
Dubé, who is seeking re-election in October, made the announcement Wednesday morning.
"We've all seen the shortcomings of our health system during the pandemic. Everyone agrees we must change the way things work in health and social services," Dubé said.
The agency would be called Santé Québec and "will have the mandate to co-ordinate the operations of the health system while the Ministry of Health and Social Services will focus on its role of planning, orientation, measuring the system's performance and budgeting."
Dubé, who is the MNA for La Prairie, said the agency would help "de-centralize" and "de-bureaucratize" the system, giving as an example the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Quebec.
Agency is not a reform, Dubé says
While the Quebec Immunization Committee provided clinical guidance for the campaign, a separate team was in charge of operations, he explained.
"The idea is not to embark on a major reform of structures that would upset everything on the ground."
He said the agency would empower local health board directors to act on decisions more quickly. The Health Ministry's response to COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic was heavily criticized, namely for its lack of decisive actions.
Quebecers and health-care workers have become wary of big and ambitious projects, after several large-scale reforms meant to streamline operations ended up creating large-scale disruptions and worsening staff shortages.
Québec Solidaire health critic and Rosemont MNA Vincent Marissal said the agency fails to provide solutions to an exodus of staff from the public system.
"Another CAQ plan that misses the real problem: health-care workers who leave the network and never want to return," Marissal said, adding QS would be proposing its own plan ahead of the election.
He said the governing party should start by abolishing forced overtime and the use of private placement agencies "but the CAQ does not have the courage to do so."
In June, Deputy Health Minister Dominique Savoie published a report called "Renewed governance of the health and social services network," which Dubé said inspired the idea for the new agency.