The leaders of Quebec’s three main labour organizations held a joint news conference at the end of July to denounce the “undemocratic” process behind a major report on long-term sustainability of the province’s health care system.
The presidents of the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec, the Centrale des syndicats du Québec and the Centrale des syndicats démocratiques were part of a working group put together last year by the P3-enamoured Charest government to propose solutions to the province’s ongoing health care crisis. The Ménard report is named for the working group’s head, Bank of Montreal senior executive Jacques Ménard.
But the union leaders claimed that the committee never discussed several of the report’s recommendations, while other conclusions are markedly different from what they said was discussed around the table. Some of the recommendations include public private partnerships for health care infrastructure, contracting out of health support services and contracting out day surgeries to private clinics. The leaders issued their own minority report, available at www.scfp.qc.ca.
Quebec media leaked the report’s main findings before the official release. Quebecers were outraged to learn what their government might have in store for them. In addition to the privatization plans, other unpopular recommendations include a one per cent hike in the provincial sales tax, the creation of a separate health insurance for the elderly (under the pretext that they incur higher health care costs than the rest of us), and an increase in Hydro-Québec rates.
The three leaders urged the Charest government to reject the Ménard report, which they called “botched, disrespectful, and alarmist.” They called for an open and transparent public debate on health care funding.