Let’s Shift the Focus to Underlying Issues at McGill University Health Centre

Montreal – May 19, 2017 

The English-speaking community should be reassured this morning that major parties now acknowledge the leadership vacuum that exists within the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and are agreed on the urgent need to resolve it. In particular, the Quebec Community Groups Network warmly welcomes the admission by the MUHC Foundations that such a crisis exists.

Both the Foundations and Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette agree with us that recent developments have opened up the way to a constructive approach. We must all work together to remedy the systemic MUHC problems. The situation cannot simply be allowed to further deteriorate.

“We welcome immediate dialogue to ensure that the MUHC and its partners will be equipped with the needed tools and fresh leadership to provide our community with truly efficient patient-centred continuity of care,” said QCGN Vice-President Geoffrey Chambers. “On behalf of our community we look forward to being able to take these long-festering issues in hand, and resolving them once and for all.”

The QCGN had made its position clear in a more detailed opinion piece published this morning in The Gazette.

Chambers noted that the fact that the Foundations of the merged institution were the ones that had to stand up and speak for the beleaguered MUHC is a disturbing sign of how the current internal leadership of the MUHC has been crippled by managerial issues and grave shortcomings from both governance and accountability standpoints.

“There is a crisis. Everybody now, finally, recognizes there is a crisis. Let’s shift the focus to the underlying issues and get on with the job, rather than casting blame, raising anxiety in the community or trying to battle this out in the media,” Chambers counselled.

Download a copy of the press release

MUHC can and must do better for our community

By James Shea
Geoffrey Chambers

The English-speaking community is being challenged to ensure that during decades to come, our McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is provided with all the tools it needs to flourish. This applies equally to the front-line network of institutions through which most of our patient care is delivered. In many ways, we already have first-class institutions. We must act now to ensure they have a first-class future.

Our first move should not be to vilify a Quebec cabinet member who quite justifiably is calling on community leadership to address and solve the MUHC’s obvious problems. Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette is grappling “to make sure that the MUHC is stabilized.” He is understandably cautious about funding a profoundly dysfunctional system in the absence of a plan for corrective action.

The era of MUHC business as usual must be declared over. The forces of the MUHC status quo refuse to acknowledge this. Instead, they are trying to set Barrette up as the villain, the core cause of the problem. Let’s be blunt. Within the MUHC and across Quebec, English healthcare isn’t working to its full potential. The MUHC is afflicted with morale, managerial and other chronic issues. Holdovers from the Dr. Arthur Porter era have utterly failed to build the case for what we have long needed — a well-thought-through organizational redesign that is patient-centred. To accomplish the turnaround in governance and accountability that the MUHC so sorely needs, we require active engagement.

Whining is pointless. The Quebec Community Groups Network wants a productive debate and positive results on this and a variety of issues such as history curriculum, government services in English, bilingual signs, electoral map changes… the list is long. The way to achieve such progress is through evidence-based arguments, hard-nosed, fair-minded bargaining and a viable plan.

In health care, we need a system that doesn’t regularly drop the ball or needlessly escalate levels of care. One that doesn’t rule out the most promising option for oncology treatment because of the postal code of that patient’s home.

Most patients who have been through our system readily attest to the first-class care show by overburdened staff. Their best efforts are constantly being tripped up by infuriating systemic problems including organizational inefficiency, duplication, bureaucratic turf wars and lack of communication. These defects are only partly rooted in the unfortunate era embodied by the now-disgraced Porter. We shouldn’t be slapping the minister of health around to avoid tackling Porter’s thorny internal-management legacy head-on.

The MUHC needs an integrated, patient-centred approach that fosters continuity of care. Leading healthcare systems are taking full advantage of available technology, techniques and tactics. Ours is most definitely not.

A modern system prevents or minimizes hospital stays. It delivers appropriate services as close to the front lines as possible. It allows and motivates staff to do better what they do best. It heals, not hinders. It encourages, not impedes. It also saves taxpayer dollars. Instead, the MUHC status quo argues that coordination with the rest of the network is an imposition. They are way off base, taking the outdated, self-centred approach that hospitals are the centre of the network. The MUHC leadership needs to get its act together and accept that it must work with our other institutions.

The MUHC is an institution that literally for each of us—not just in the Montreal region but for the English-speaking community across the province—may well one day mean the difference between our life and our death.

So let’s get on with the job. We can and must do better, for all in the system now and for all our generations to come.

James Shea is president and Geoffrey Chambers is vice-president of the Quebec Community Groups Network, which brings together 53 English-language community organizations across Quebec.

La grande séduction; to make the anglo vote move away from the Liberals

“Il y a certains mots français que même les Anglo-montréalais-es unilingues ont intégrés à leur vocabulaire — dépanneur, cinq-à-sept, terrasse et anglophone pour n’en nommer que quelques-uns. Lors d’une récente table ronde majoritairement anglophone organisée à Montréal par Québec solidaire, plusieurs autres ont fait surface, dont altermondialiste, projet de société et même… indépendantiste.”

This article presents a review of a few reasons why English-speaking Quebecers constantly vote for Quebec Liberals. Most of them revolve around rejecting another referendum. Yet, as Quebec Solidaire and the Parti Québécois try to woo the “Anglo” vote, the debate has changed.

Some English-speaking Quebecers express their discontent towards Liberals which many believe they are taking the community for granted. Lately, Martin Coiteux’s language flap also reveal a deep neglect about what is important for English-speaking Quebecers, as mentioned by QCGN President James Shea in his press release.

Read the full article on Ricochet Media’s website

QCGN Invites Meilleur to Become Acquainted with English-speaking Quebec

Montreal – May 16, 2017

The Quebec Community Groups Network extends its congratulations to Madeleine Meilleur, who has been nominated to be the next Commissioner of Official Languages by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. She is slated to replace Graham Fraser who retired at the end of last year after more than a decade a yeoman service.

Recognized for having participated in the battle to save Ottawa’s Montfort Hospital in the late 1990s, Meilleur was Ontario’s Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs between 2003 and 2016. As Minister, she oversaw the expansion of Montfort Hospital; the creation of Ontario’s Commissioner for French Language Services and the establishment of a provincial Advisory Committee on Francophone Affairs; as well as an increased number of provincial institutions and regions designated to provide French language service. She also oversaw the designation of September 25 as Franco-Ontarian Day.

“As Commissioner of Official Languages, Mme. Meilleur will be our foremost federal advocate for English- and French-speaking minority communities all across Canada,” commented QCGN President James Shea, noting that an important part of her job will be to have an equal understanding and commitment to both of Canada’s official language minority communities. “We count on her to come and visit our communities and get to know us.”

Traditionally held alternately by a French-speaking and an English-speaking Canadian, Meilleur is the third Francophone and second woman to be appointed to the post since it was created in 1970 to ensure the application of language laws and to promote bilingualism and linguistic duality. The Commissioner of Official Languages, which reports directly to Parliament, is responsible for the full recognition and widespread use of English and French within Canadian society, as well as within federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Official Languages Act.  The Commissioner of Official Languages is appointed for a seven-year mandate.

Under the Official Languages Act, Meilleur’s appointment must be approved by the House of Commons and the Senate. The Standing Committee will have 30 days to examine the nomination and report back to the House of Commons which will vote on the appointment. The Government will also table a motion in the Senate seeking its approval.

“Sadly, official language minority communities do not have any input into the nomination or appointment process,” said Shea. “Going forward, this is something we would like the government to consider.”

“After six-months the QCGN is pleased the government is moving ahead with a nomination and we look forward to working with the new commissioner. In the meantime, the QCGN extends its thanks to Deputy commissioner Ghislaine Saikaley, who will continue to serve in an acting role until June, and her remarkable team,” Shea added, noting the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages contains a sizeable group of public servants committed to the vitality of our official language communities.

Download a copy of the press release

22nd Annual Meeting of the QCGN – Working Together for Quebec’s English-speaking Communities

Under the theme Working Together for Quebec’s English-speaking Communities, members of the Quebec Community Groups Network will hold their 22nd Annual Meeting on June 15 and 16, 2017 at Le Nouvel Hotel in Montreal.

This year we will be holding our Members Convention and Annual General Meeting over two days. After an early breakfast on Thusday morning, the convention will begin with our professional development. Allowing all of our participants to benefit from the wisdom of our three presenters, we will begin in plenary where our trainers will each give a 18-minute presentation TED-style (Technology, Entertainment Design ). We will have three TED-like talks on a trio of themes – Building and Engaging Online Communities; Managing Workplace Environment; and Fundraising and Philanthropy. Our session will be followed by break-out sessions where participants can interact directly with our presenters, ask questions, and gain more in-depth knowledge about their topic of choice.

Following lunch, we will be hosting a free community/government matchmaking event. With financial support from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, the “speed dating” event will connect English-speaking community leaders and organizations with federal institutions that offer funding and services. The event will be sponsored by the Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation (CEDEC).

On Friday, we will reconvene early for breakfast followed by a series of information sessions. First up will be a panel about recent Statistics Canada population projections and how they will impact Quebec’s English-speaking Communities. That will be followed by a review of the Official Language Regulations (Communications with and Services to the Public) with Carsten Quell of the Treasury Board Secretariat; a talk on Measuring Community Vitality with William Floch, research Manager at the Department of Canadian Heritage; and a discussion on the renewal of the Community Development Plan for the English-speaking Community of Quebec.

After lunch, we will convene for the Annual General Meeting where we will deal with the business of our network. The AGM is free and open to all members and, once again this year, we will broaden access further by broadcasting it live via webcast. This will allow virtual participants to follow the meeting, and, if necessary, allow voting delegates from member organizations who are not on hand to vote virtually. If you are a voting delegate planning on participating via livestream, please contact Patricia Post. A link to the live webcast will be posted on the AGM website a few days before the event.

For the full schedule for the event and to register, visit qcgn.ca/qcgn-agm.
The page will be updated as additional details are confirmed.

Quebec Anglophone community groups get $1M in federal funding

“The Quebec Community Groups Network, an Anglophone umbrella group, has chosen 10 organizations to receive $1 million in federal funding.”

The Community Innovation Fund is supporting the projects to create opportunities for youth, newcomers and seniors. Many Montreal organizations will receive funding from May 2017 until March 2019 which could go a long way for the communities they help support.

Read the full article on Global Montreal website

Ten projects selected to help vulnerable Quebec anglophones

“Ten projects that will improve the prospects and quality of life of vulnerable English-speaking youth, seniors and newcomers have been selected among 43 project proposals vying for $1 million in federal funding over the next two years”

The Quebec Community Groups Network was chosen to solicit and select projects and to distribute the $1 million from the federal government’s Community Innovation Fund.

Read more in the Montreal Gazette

Feds give $1M to Quebec groups serving English-speaking community

“Ottawa is providing more than $1 million in funding for community groups in Quebec that serve the English-speaking community. Ten organizations will benefit from the funding over two years, chosen from 43 groups that made submissions for projects.”

The money is administred by Quebec Community Groups Network. The projects chosen range from support to youth and seniors in Montreal all across Quebec to the Magdalen Islands and the North Shore. Beyond government funding, the QCGN is hoping to strike up relationships with the private sector to encourage corporate support for community programs.

Read the full article on CTV News Montreal website

Social Initiatives to Address Needs of Vulnerable English-speaking Youth, Seniors and Newcomers

Montreal – April 27, 2017 – 

The Quebec Community Groups Network today announced the selection of 10 projects that will improve employability or secure basic socioeconomic security for vulnerable youth, seniors/caregivers or newcomers in Quebec’s English-language communities.

These projects will be financed under the Community Innovation Fund (CIF), which will invest $1 million in federal funds between May 2017 and March 2019 for social initiatives  that build job skills and develop partnerships across the non-profit and private sectors.

“This innovative approach will spur dynamic and sustainable partnerships between community organizations along with corporate, governmental and commercial enterprises that will lead to strengthening the vitality of our communities,” commented CIF Governance Committee co-chair Ian Kott, President of Jormian Capital.

“I’m pleased to support the projects being offered by the Quebec Community Groups Network. By bringing together 53 English-language community organizations across the province, QCGN plays an important role in identifying, exploring and addressing strategic issues affecting the development and vitality of the English-speaking community of Quebec,” said Marc Miller, MP for Ville-Marie-Le Sud-Ouest-Île-des-Soeurs, speaking on behalf of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.

The CIF is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program – Children and Families Component and is part of the Roadmap for Canada’s Official Languages 2013–2018: Education, Immigration, Communities.

“CIF will empower community groups through knowledge-sharing activities focused on providing the skills needed to build collaborative partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders,” said QCGN Board member James Hughes, who sits on the fund’s Governance Committee. “Through these activities, the fund will create conditions for communities to increase their social impact.”

Hughes explained that QCGN’s role is to administer the project and to help the community sector make links with private partners. The next step will be to bring representatives from the governance committee and funding recipients together to share information and lessons learned. The QCGN will also develop an evaluation framework in collaboration with an academic institution to assess data gathered during the projects.

An independent selection committee reviewed 43 letters of intent and shortlisted 11 applicants which were invited to submit a full application. A total of 10 projects are being funded.

View the list of funded projects

Download a copy of the press release

Time to forgive Coiteux, but not to forget English has standing

This opinion piece written by QCGN President James Shea was published in the Montreal Gazette on Thursday April 27.

To err is most certainly human.

This week’s error in the National Assembly by Quebec Municipal Affairs Minister Martin Coiteux proved an extremely disappointing faux pas by a respected and influential political player. After all, this is a minister who has generally shown good openness to — and solid understanding of Quebec’s English-speaking community.

On behalf of its members and the community, the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) accepts the sincere apology Coiteux issued Wednesday. It is a step that we greet with an open mind and an open spirit. However, forgiveness in this instance should not and cannot be equated with forgetfulness.

Quebecers of all linguistic and political stripes have been provided with an important opportunity to re-learn a basic fact about the legal standing of English in this province. Only after all have absorbed this can we collectively turn the page and shift our attention to other important issues.

On Tuesday afternoon, Coiteux was asked, in English, by Quebec solidaire MNA Amir Khadir about a police probe into Liberal Party financing. The minister responded that he would stick to Assembly tradition, and answer in French.

To use the basic language of the street, Coiteux totally blew it.

As we at the QCGN immediately noted, this was an affront to his constituents and to more than 1 million English-speaking Quebecers, of whom some 210,000 live outside of the Montreal area.

Not only is English permitted in the Assembly, but the 1867 Constitution Act clearly states that French or English may be used in Assembly debate.

The gravity and import in the way Coiteux fumbled his initial response is compounded by the demographics of his West Island riding of Nelligan, which covers Pierrefonds-Roxboro, Île-Bizard-Sainte-Genevieve and Kirkland. A majority of his electors — some 44,980 — are English-speaking.

By taking the no-English path, Coiteux gave credence to a perilous myth: that English speakers have, under Quebec law, somehow been relegated to the sidelines in the democratic arena where our provincial laws are publicly debated and set into stone.

Precision matters. In an environment where the English-speaking community is already dealing with multiple challenges — and in a context where so many strategic issues are affecting the development and vitality of the English-speaking community of Quebec — it should be underscored that the use of English is an expression of the fundamental rule of law.

The negative symbolism of his error is surprising in several other ways. Most notably, it was very much out of character. After all, this is a minister who took his oath of office in both languages. Coiteux speaks English well.

Language in Quebec is always a very sensitive issue. Never before has his sensitivity to the concerns of English speakers had to be called into question.

Coiteux was first elected to the National Assembly in 2014. So the time frame makes it difficult to classify this as simply a rookie error.

In an interview with Global News last fall, Coiteux said that he moved to the West Island six years ago when he fell in love with an area resident, “and the most beautiful thing about it is that everybody lives in harmony.” Quite accurately, he also remarked that “there is a spirit of community, which really is something that is very special, very unique to the West Island.”

The English-language community of Quebec is also very special and unique. In a meeting with Premier Philippe Couillard last fall, we noted that our community faces a long list of challenges and that we do not always have good dialogue with our government partners.

The scarcity of English-speaking MNAs and government bureaucrats in Quebec City is an ongoing, serious issue and we need our leaders to understand and speak for our community.

Let this week’s incident, and the reaction to it, drive that message home.