Quebec Health Minister resurrects boards of directors in his reform of the health-care network

Health Minister Christian Dubé tabled new amendments to his reform of the health-care network on Tuesday with a view to bringing back boards of directors within institutions.

He said he wanted to strike a balance to protect foundations and the hundreds of millions of dollars they receive.

At a news briefing in Quebec City, the minister explained that he had been working on this compromise for a long time, as he wanted to find a way to strike a balance between coordinating institutions and maintaining their autonomy.

Santé Québec’s mandate will be to ensure the coordination and deployment of best practices throughout the health-care network. For their part, the new institutional boards of directors will have a mandate to manage teaching, research and innovation activities in their facilities.

Philanthropic issues will be entrusted to the CEOs, with the support of a foundation linked to the institution.

“Specifically, when it comes to research, university training and innovation, it’s clear that these people have decision-making power,” he said. “They will still be accountable, but they have decision-making power, with the foundations, to choose the research they want to do.”

The minister also confirmed that he had been approached by several former Quebec premiers in recent months. He described the discussions as “constructive.”

They, like many other influential figures in the business world, would have warned the minister against the risk of losing major donations by not sitting on boards of directors.

Among the criticisms raised was the risk of a loss of identity for the institutions, which could weaken their ability to attract donors.

The minister said he had heard the message and was “not prepared to take that risk.”

Dubé nevertheless sought to defend his decision to limit the powers of boards of directors by talking about the need to put an end to silo management.

The creation of Santé Québec should encourage greater collaboration between establishments and institutions. On the other hand, by their very nature, boards of directors have a duty to protect their own institutions first before thinking of collaborating with other entities.

Although he welcomes the changes suggested by the minister, Parti Quebecois health critic Joël Arseneau finds it unfortunate that he needed pressure from former premiers.

“It’s in line with what we’ve been asking for all along. It’s a bit of a shame that the minister didn’t trust the members of the commission, who were the voice of the regions, to ensure that there was genuine decentralization and local decision-making power,” said Arsenau.

The PQ MNA finds the mobilization of former premiers “extraordinary” and believes that it highlights the extent to which the issue of local representation was fundamental.

The Canadian Press health content receives funding through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. The Canadian Press is solely responsible for editorial choices.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press in French on Oct. 24, 2023. 


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