Health ministry seeks new English access committee members after firing the last ones

By Gordon Lambie – Local Journalism Initiative
Health ministry seeks new English access committee members after firing the last ones

The Provincial Government has issued a call for expressions of interest and applications to be on the Provncial committee on the dispensing of health and social services in the English language after having dismissed the entirety of the previous committee through a regulation change in the latter half of 2021. The committee, also sometimes referred to as the provincial access committee, is charged with advising the government on the way that health and social services are delivered in English across the province and also on any evaluation, modification, and approval the government may make with regard to the access programs of each individual institution in the province.

The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) first sounded the alarm about the dismissal of the previous committee members in late August, describing the change as ‘robbery through legislation.’ At the time, Eric Maldoff, Chair of the Quebec Community Groups Network’s Health and Social Services Committee argued that the change, drafted quietly over the summer, wiped out years of work to try to ensure that the committee was an active and informed representation of Quebec’s English-speaking communities. Beyond undoing past work, however, Maldoff argued that regulation changed the way the committee will be formed in a way that would impact its independence from the government itself.

Later in the fall, Liberal Member of the National Assembly David Birnbaum sponsored a petition calling on the government to reaffirm the mandate and independence of the committee. By the time it closed on Dec.8, that document received 4,533 signatures.

“Two days before the petition was tabled in the National Assembly on Dec. 10 – in the middle of a public health emergency during which the population is fully fixated on COVID-19 – the government stealthily enacted a new regulation governing the provincial committee,” said QCGN president Marlene Jennings in a press release issued by the organization this week. “The committee’s members were all terminated, creating an acute void at a critical time for the English-speaking community.”
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