New CAQ government appoints healthcare trio
It’s a done deal. In his inauguration speech, Québec’s new premier, François Legault, revealed the names of the three people he has chosen to manage the healthcare portfolio, which he describe as “extraordinary people”. As announced during the election campaign, he appointed Danielle McCann as Minister of Health and Social Services. A trained social worker, Ms. McCann also has a Bachelor’s degree in Education and an MBA.
After having held several management positions at Montréal-area CLSCs and CHSLDs, she was put in charge of setting up the Centre de santé et de services sociaux du Sud-Ouest-Verdun, which involved merging an acute care hospital, two CLSCs, and three long-term care facilities. In 2012, she became the President-CEO of the Agence de santé et de services sociaux de Montréal. With a budget of more than $6 billion, she was responsible for coordinating services at more than 60 health and social services institutions.
Upon being appointed Minister of Health, Ms. McCann declared that her priority would be to change the tone of interactions with her partners in the health and social services network.
Cooperation from the outset
“Cooperation and consultations are our main priorities. We plan to work with everyone—we’ll be meeting with doctors, nurses, social workers, and users,” she emphasized. She also intends to “decentralize a lot of things, in consultation with the teams.”
Ms. McCann also confirmed that her government “would put an end to the salary increases” and that it was important to speed up the process of obtaining comparative data with Ontario, as requested by the premier. She believes it’s possible to negotiate “in good faith” with specialists in order to find win-win solutions for physicians, citizens, and the entire network.
New minister appointed for seniors and informal caregivers
Marguerite Blais has been appointed Minister responsible for Seniors and Informal Caregivers. Between 2007 and 2012, the former radio and TV host was the Minister responsible for Seniors under the Liberal government. She’s highly conversant with the issues related to seniors, but also with those affecting informal caregivers, having taken care of her husband after his diagnosis of a glioblastoma while she was still an MNA.
However, it’s difficult to say right now how far her powers will extend. While a “minister responsible for” is on equal footing with a full minister, also overseeing all related staff, activities, programs and credits of their portfolio, unlike a full minister, their duties may depend on what’s stated in the decree applicable to them. For example, they may be responsible for enforcing an entire act, or just a section of an act and the agencies arising from it.
A minister appointed for early childhood
Dr. Lionel Carmant announced that he would be giving up medicine for the next four years to dedicate himself fully to his duties as a minister and an MNA. Until being elected on October 1, Dr. Carmant, a neurologist, was Chief of Neurology at CHU Sainte-Justine and professor of neuroscience and pediatrics at Université de Montréal.
As a minister of health and social services, he will oversee the early childhood and pediatric learning disorders portfolio. He will also head up the revision of the cannabis law adopted under Philippe Couillard’s government. The CAQ wants to make it clear that this issue will first and foremost be treated as a health matter. During the election campaign, the CAQ said it wanted to raise the legal age for buying cannabis from 18 to 21, and ban its use in public places.
Health remains a priority for the new government. In his speech on election night, Mr. Legault repeated that his main mission was to make sure that “whenever a Québecer is sick, they can see a doctor or a nurse quickly without overcrowding the emergency department.” He also pledged that his government would “treat seniors with a loss of autonomy with all the dignity they deserve,” as well as provide better support for parents of disabled children and for informal caregivers.
The new Minister of Health Danielle McCann won’t be answering to Gaétan Barrette in the National Assembly. Rather, Liberal MNA André Fortin, previously assigned to transport, will be the official opposition critic on health and public health.
The Parti Québécois’ health critic will be Sylvain Gaudreault, who will also shadow the environment, climate change and energy portfolios.
Finally, Sol Zanetti will be Québec Solidaire’s critic on health and social services, as well as on matters related to sovereignty, democratic institutions, and federal intergovernmental affairs.