Health Minister meets union and patient reps over MUHC crisis

After the mass-resignation of 10-out-of-19 McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Board Members last week, Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette held hastily-organized meetings with union heads and a representative for hospital patients Thursday morning.

Leaving their meeting with Minister Barrette, the three union leaders said it was the “first step” to moving the MUHC out of its “crisis.”

They said the Minister’s goal was to discuss the budgetary situation; his position versus that of the of the hospital’s Board; and how provincial health funds are allocated.

The unions’ goals? First, they want three permanent seats on the Board of Directors.

“We represent nearly 10,000 employees and there should be a permanent representation for these employees on the board,” said Manuel Fernandez, CSN Interim-President. “If he’s genuinely serious about real change, then let’s start with the real change on the Board where these decisions are made that affect the 10,000 employees.”

They also want increased government investments for new equipment; enhanced services and improved patient care - delivered by healthcare professionals who aren’t sick themselves. It was recently reported that sick leave at MUHC has reached an alarming level.

“(Our) members are sick, they are tired, they are overworked and there’s solution that has to be brought in,” said Denyse Joseph, President of the Nursing and Cardio-Respiratory Professionals Union. “We cannot continue giving the service that we want to give with fewer staff on the units.”

Minister Barrette also held a meeting with a representative for patients, but wasn’t available to media afterwards. The Minister indicated to union leaders that he hopes to have new MUHC board members in place before summer`s end.