Quebec tables bill to improve family doctors' work practices

Bill 11 contains no punitive measures, but would oblige doctors to be more transparent about the hours they work.

The Montreal Gazette 2 minute read November 11, 2021

QUEBEC — The Legault government wants to keep a closer eye on the workloads of Quebec’s family doctors and will require them all to share their available hours to work so regional health authorities can better respond to the needs of citizens.

The government will also oblige doctors to only take on new patients already waiting on the appointment booking system operated by the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec.

Rising in the legislature Thursday, Health and Social Services Minister Christian Dubé tabled Bill 11, a first volley in the government’s attempt to push Quebec’s 10,000 family doctors to work harder.

The bill, an act to increase the supply of primary care services by general practitioners and to improve the management of that supply, contains no punitive measures and imposes no quotas on the number of patients a doctor should have.

A few weeks ago, Premier François Legault said the government has in hand data from the RAMQ indicating which doctors have fewer than 1,000 patients in their charge.

At the time, he said he was ready to adopt legislation allowing him to give the names of the doctors to regional health authorities so their work practices could be investigated.

There are 800,000 Quebecers on the government’s waiting list for a family doctor. The Coalition Avenir Québec promised in the 2018 election to give everyone access to a doctor.

At a news conference Thursday, Dubé said the bill represents an extended hand to doctors to improve the system without nasty financial penalties, a tactic tried by the previous governments.

“This bill might surprise people,” Dubé said. “You will see there is no coercion in this. There are no punitive measures. Nothing of that. It is a working canvas. For me it is a management bill.”

The bill will be examined by a committee of the legislature in January.