A culture of untouchability?
The Board of Directors of our city’s health facilities has been suspended—its powers have been put into trusteeship. After years of deficits, Quebec City has had enough (once again, since this was not Gatineau’s first) of what is, in essence, insubordination. That’s the government view.
The administrators and the unions are raising a big stink over this – all the while tacitly agreeing that they have not delivered on their responsibilities. Gatineau has been – and apparently still is – one of the worst-managed health services in Quebec. No one is disagreeing.
If the unions and the directors were making a point here – apart from complaining that they do not get as much funding as do other areas – we would all be attentive. No one wants to see their health services cramped in any way. But we are seeing and hearing next to nothing. Funding comparisons are not helpful since they come with no details. Population numbers cannot be the sole means of comparison – there is distance, number of facilities concerned, the number of specialized services available, and so on. Let’s hear the union and directors’ side – but not just roaring! Give us the facts, we can handle them!
Unions have grown to become interest groups, not community stakeholders. Yes, their first duty is to their members and those members’ working conditions, but in no definition of the term “union” is that the end of it. Unions have typically carried community and progressive causes, sometimes outside their own pastures, because they have always seen themselves as furthering all of society, not a single class. By comparison, Bolsheviks represent the interests of the working class and nothing but.
According to these reactions, we’re told we deserve a health system in which feather-bedding and bureaucratization are endemic, that Quebec has some sort of duty to shovel money our way, without strong oversight or accountability. I recall the Denys Arcand movies placed in a Montreal hospital – we, the public, thought Arcand was making a complaint, but the unions, apparently, felt he was praising the gospel, somebody’s gospel.
The Minister, without some blame on his part, has criticized the CSSSG “culture” of deficit management and of providing poor service for the money. This is the sort of thing that spreads, this culture of untouchability. We see it in today’s federal government; we see it on other levels of government, even in our own city, according to a report in this edition on attempts to silence at least one councillor.
One of the most important principles of democratic government is that no administration, no leaders, no departments, and no services can place themselves above the rules and above accountability – and above good sense. Our unions grew out of struggles for these principles, not only for a better wage or hours. It is time they reflected upon their roots and upon their power to do good in our society. There hasn’t been much of that reflection evident.