Votes in Quebec: CAQ seeks small wins with promises of improved health care

MONTREAL — The Coalition Avenir Québec has decided to play the short game when it comes to election promises in terms of health, insisting on the importance of making commitments that it can keep.

MONTREAL — The Coalition Avenir Québec has decided to play the short game when it comes to election promises in terms of health, insisting on the importance of making commitments that it can keep.

On Day 5 of Quebec’s election campaign, CAQ leader Francois Legault pledged an additional $400 million to recruit 660 doctors and 5,000 medical professionals if he is re-elected premier. He also blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for his failure to implement health care promises from the last election, such as ensuring that all Quebecers have access to a family doctor.

“It’s only normal that with the pandemic we haven’t been able to do what we would have had it not been for COVID, and I think everyone understands that,” he said. he told reporters Thursday in Trois-Rivières, Quebec.

“It’s not unique to Quebec. We see that in other provinces and other countries.”

He was joined by several candidates, including outgoing health minister Christian Dubé, who said the party avoided making false health care promises to voters. Dubé says Quebecers have become jaded by politicians who have made big health care commitments and failed to follow through.

“In the area of ​​health care, there have been a lot of promises made that have not been kept,” said Dubé, who announced an action plan for health reform earlier this year. year.

One of the keys to this plan is the workforce, and he said the CAQ will step up its efforts to counter the shortage of healthcare workers by winning them over with small successes that will help bring workers back. He said the goal is to make the public system the first choice for healthcare workers.

There are 11,000 vacancies in the public health network, but the CAQ says it will hire 27,000 people over the next four years to deal with retirements and retirements.

“There is no magic solution, but if Quebecers, patients and health care workers see small successes, these successes lead to others that will allow us to bring people back,” said Dubé.

Olivier Jacques, a professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Quebec in Montreal, said the CAQ’s strategy is to underestimate its health care promises. “It’s interesting that he (Dubé) says that because it’s true that you can’t fool the electorate by promising impossible things.”

The CAQ, for example, promised every Quebecer a family doctor in 2018. Yet 800,000 people are still on waiting lists. “I believe this is one of the (CAQ’s) broken promises that people will remember the most,” Jacques said.

The Liberals took the opposite route this election by promising a family doctor for every Quebecer.

A key part of the CAQ’s plan is to decentralize decision-making, Jacques said, adding that trying to quickly reform the health system will not work. The best way to affect change, he said, is to tackle problems piece by piece.

“There is no other way to do it otherwise, unfortunately,” said Jacques.

Meanwhile, Quebec solidaire reiterated Thursday its promise to offer universal public dental insurance.

In New Richmond, Que., party spokesman Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said the plan would cover all dental costs for those under 18, welfare recipients and people seniors receiving the federal Guaranteed Income Supplement. Those who don’t fall into these categories could be reimbursed up to 80% of tooth cleaning costs and 60% for other services such as fillings and root canals.

In Sherbrooke, Que., Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade has announced plans to eliminate the province’s land transfer tax, also known as the welcome tax, for those buying a first home.

Parti Québécois leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon was in Ottawa to refine his message on the need for Quebec independence. Before Parliament, St-Pierre Plamondon listed the failures of the Legault government’s negotiations with the federal government, on issues such as health transfers and immigration.

This isn’t the first time the PQ’s campaign has ended in Ottawa: in 2018, then-leader Jean-François Lisée delivered a similar message in that city.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 1, 2022.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

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