Bill 10 will now protect rights of English-speakers
After months of negotiations with Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, Quebec’s English-speaking community obtained important changes to Bill 10. These changes will preserve many of our institutions despite the loss of their individual boards of directors. They create opportunities for meaningful participation of English-speaking Quebecers in our institutions, and will help ensure that the health and social service network is responsive to their needs.
The community’s main goals were: to protect access to services in our own language; the continuing participation of our community in the delivery of culturally and linguistically sensitive health and social services; accountability of the institutions to our community; the preservation of the bilingual status of our institutions; the continued existence of the corporations of our institutions and the protection of their assets as well as the rights of their members; and finally an ongoing connection to our foundations, universities and research institutes.
Some of the changes include granting bilingual status to two of the integrated health and social service centres, known as CISSSs (Centre intégrés de santé et services sociaux), in the Montreal region; English speaking representation on every CISSS across the province; two seats for our universities on the boards of university hospitals. The new advisory committees that were optional in the legislation as first proposed will now be compulsory in all of our recognized bilingual institutions. These statutory committees will be critical watchdogs in ensuring the protection of the social, cultural and linguistic needs of the populations served by their institutions.
The legislation ensures that every Integrated Health and Social Services Centre has an access program for services in English which must include the human resource plan that enables it, and a strengthened access advisory committee. The members of these committees will be representatives of the English-speaking communities. The legislation also contains provisions that protect the integrity of our owning corporations which will maintain their veto over any changes to the clinical mission of a given facility, the liquidation of any assets, or any modification of the bilingual status of facilities designated as such under article 29.1 of Quebec’s Charter of the French Language. “Now it is up to our communities to be proactive in this new environment,” remarked former MNA Clifford Lincoln. “The onus is on us to get involved. Rights are not meaningful unless you exercise them.”
Rita Legault, The Quebec Community