CUPE has mixed feelings about the creation of a public psychotherapy program recently announced by the Couillard government. CUPE welcomes the idea in principle as this program will enable persons in distress to receive psychotherapy services covered by provincial health insurance (RAMQ). It is, however, deeply concerned by the fact the program only applies to private clinics, not to CLSCs, and that a doctor’s referral is needed to access the program.

“This program should come under the umbrella of the public health care and social services system, with the CLSCs under the auspices of the CISSS and CIUSSS. It provides all of the necessary support and all of the cohesiveness needed to ensure the success of the program. Most of all, the public system would safeguard the equitable, universal and accessible nature of the program,” pointed out Frédéric Brisson, the President of the Conseil provincial des affaires sociales (CPAS-SCFP).

“Unfortunately, Couillard and Barrette have yet again chosen to favour the private clinics at the expense of the public system. They are opting to put psychologists, social workers and nurses under the direction of doctors. That’s their trademark, and it’s always the same story,” added Frédéric Brisson.

The CPAS perceives this ill-advised decision as the logical outcome of a 2015 directive from Minister Barrette, which forces CISSS and the CIUSSS to provide staff to family medicine groups (GMF). This directive means that employees of the public system, who are still being paid with public funds, are made available to GMFs, which are private enterprises.

The CPAS shares the same view as Charles Roy, the President of the Association des psychologues du Québec, who commented that it was absurd to “break up the teams that are working in CLSCs and transfer them to GMFs.”

“Let’s not kid ourselves. That’s a classic example of hypocrisy. Early in their mandate, this government abolished several psychologist positions in the public system in the name of austerity. Too bad that it took until the run-up to the election for people suffering from anxiety or depression to receive the supports they need,” said the President of the CPAS.