11/17/2014 05:00 EST | Updated 01/16/2015 05:59 EST

Western Quebec municipalities opposed to Bill 10

The leaders of Western Quebec's four rural municipalities are concerned that proposed legislation to overhaul the governance of health services will have a "devastating" economic impact. 

Health Minister Gaétan Barrette has said that Bill 10 will save the province roughly $220 million per year by cutting down on bureaucracy, including getting rid of the province's 18 regional health agencies. The province spends more than $30 billion on health care annually.

The leaders of rural municipalities are concerned about losing their voices if governance is centralized.    

"We stand to lose a lot, economically speaking, because we're going to lose a lot of professionals and high-paid civil servants that work in the area. And we may stand to lose also some services on the long run," said Michel Merleau, the warden of the regional municipality La Vallée-de-la-Gatineau.

"We're not only losing jobs, we're losing leadership in the region and that's something we're in desperate need of in the rural areas of the Outaouais."

Merleau said he's joining forces with leaders in the regional municipalities of Pontiac, Papineau and des Collines to speak out against Bill 10, which would centralize the organization and governance of Quebec's health and social services.

"This is basically what were scared of right now, is to lose this voice that we can express right now," he said. "Unfortunately, the needs of the rural areas of the Outaouais is quite different than the needs in the urban area."