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Bill 20 alternatives proposed by Quebec family doctors

03/19/2015 08:30 EDT | Updated 05/19/2015 05:59 EDT
Quebec’s federation of general practitioners says it’s trying to get a message through to Health Minister Gaétan Barrette.

The federation, known by its French-language acronym FMOQ, says Barrette’s approach to increasing the public’s access to family doctors is flawed.

The group presented its alternatives to Bill 20 on Wednesday, ahead of its appearance today at the health and social services committee studying the bill.

Chief among its proposals is getting the government to stop requiring GPs to work in emergency rooms or other medical institutions. Under the term "specific medical activities," GPs must spend 12 hours a week working in ERs. 

The FMOQ is proposing a gradual stop to mandatory emergency room work for its 8,800 members. If that happens, doctors could spend more time on first-line health care and seeing patients in clinics.

"We want to find ourselves in a situation like everywhere else in Canada, where family doctors don’t have to live with the obligations and constraints like we have in Quebec," said Dr. Louis Godin of the FMOQ.

What is Bill 20?

The proposed Bill 20 is a health care reform bill that places a quota on the minimum number of patients a doctor must take on, requires specialists to offer consultations beyond emergency rooms and docks the pay of doctors who refuse to comply with these rules.

The bill also makes changes to the province's in vitro fertilization program

"The minister says that if we came to him with solutions, he wouldn’t need Bill 20. I hope he meant what he said," Godin said.

The FMOQ agrees there is a large issue of access to health care in Quebec, but says Bill 20 is not the answer the province needs.

Godin called it a bad bill based on obligation, coercion and penalties.

More super clinics

The FMOQ is also proposing the government double the number of "super clinics," from 50 to 100, particularly in the greater Montreal region. Godin said it would cost about $250,000 to create each clinic.

Super clinics are staffed by nurses with special medicine-prescribing powers and the ability to perform certain exams.

The organization said changes such as these would mean quicker, better access to family doctors without flooding ER waiting rooms.

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