Health Minister pushes back on claims MUHC is underfunded

“The Health Minister is disagreeing with claims that the MUHC is underfunded. Seven foundations at the MUHC called on Gaetan Barrette this week, asking him to meet with the McGill University Health Centre to stabilize funding.”

This in-depth article about the different sides in the story of MUHC’s underfunding brings forward how the arguments on both the ministry and the health-care facility sides created a crisis in management. In a statement on the subject, the QCGN underlines how the MUHC was poorly managed until it reached that boiling point.

The MUHC is a revered English-speaking institution, especially for the English-speaking community, specified Sylvia Martin-Laforge.

Read the article in CTV News Montreal

‘There is a crisis’: QCGN pushing for solutions after budget cuts to health care

“Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette is denying he ever proposed a merger of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) with other health institutions.”

Responding to this statement, the QCGN applauded MUHC Foundations’ acknowledgement that the possible changes may have an impact on access to quality care to its patients. In a press release, QCGN VP Geoffrey Chambers declared that there is a crisis, but the importance is to shift the focus on the underlying issues.

Minister Barrette insisted that any changes need to come from the community, and not from his ministry since he never put forward the possibility of structural changes at the MUHC.

Read the article on Global Montreal website

Your role is not to manage, Gaétan Barrette tells MUHC foundations

“Health Minister Gaétan Barrette is declining to say whether he will take part in an urgent meeting with stakeholders of the McGill University Health Centre on the fate of the troubled institution.”

The hospital network’s predicament has devolved into a full-fledged crisis, declared QCGN VP Geoffrey Chambers in a statement. Minister Barrette reminded the MUHC Foundations that their role is not to manage health-care institutions.

Read the article in the Montreal Gazette

MUHC can and must do better for our community

By James Shea and 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.

This op-ed was featured in the Montreal Gazette.

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

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

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.

Analysis: Coiteux’s language misstep shows it’s better to be safe and sorry

“When it comes to language politics, the apology is in. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau learned it the hard way in January when he refused to answer questions in English from an anglophone at a town hall meeting in Sherbrooke.”

In this article, Philip Authier provides an overview of language politics of the past few months, especially since Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux found himself on the same slippery slope than Justin Trudeau. During question period at the National Assembly, he answered in French to a question asked in English by Mercier MNA Amir Khadir.

The QCGN noted that such a tradition (of speaking French at the National Assembly) doesn’t exist. Equality Party Robert Libman went even further asking the Minister should either apologize or resign from his Nelligan seat. The following day, Coiteux apologized, but minority community members know their rights better than the politicans, and forgiveness should not be equated with forgetfulness (see James Shea’s opinion piece).

Read the full article in the Montreal Gazette