Petition seeks to preserve provincial access committee

By Gordon Lambie
Local Journalism Initiative

A National Assembly petition on “Safeguarding the Right of Access to Health and Social Services in English” has been making the rounds online in recent days in response to a move by the CAQ government earlier this year to dissolve and reshape the Provincial Committee on the dispensing of health and social services in the English language, otherwise referred to as the provincial healthcare access committee. As of Monday afternoon there were over 2,100 signatures on the petition, which calls on the government to reaffirm the mandate and independence of the committee whose job has been to advise the government on how well English-speaking Quebecers are being served in their native language within the healthcare system, and to provide feedback and support on the access program of each respective institution within the province.
David Birnbaum, the Liberal Member of the National Assembly for D’Arcy-McGee and Official Opposition Critic for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers is sponsoring the petition.
“This access we are discussing is mandated in Bill 101, and required under Quebec’s health and social services law,” he said. “We’re not blowing smoke here. We’re not talking language politics. We’re talking the right of citizens to have their health and welfare properly attended to.”
Birnbaum referred to the provincial access committee and the regional access plans it supports as, “a compromise that all Quebecers should be proud of,” and pointed out that premiers across a range of political backgrounds have supported their existence for more than three decades.
That being the case, he said that the petition and the support it has gathered so far point out the degree to which people in the province’s English speaking communities are concerned by the changes in the draft regulation published over the summer.
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