Sandra Molloy and her husband, Marc Baillargeon, are married and already face a myriad of accessibility challenges because of his blindness and her use of a wheelchair.
“People with disabilities are not seen as having the same needs as an able-bodied person,” Molloy told Global News.
It’s this concern that has them worried about how they see the province’s new health reform being implemented. They and others living with disabilities feel if the reform goes through, their problems will take longer to get solved.
“If they do away with users’ committees, us as users don’t have a voice anymore,” she argued.
Bill 15, meant to make the health and social system more efficient, will centralize the management of such services under one agency called Santé Québec.
“Every health centre, hospital, rehab centre and residence has a users’ committee,” explained Joanne Charron, a member of the users’ committee at Lethbridge-Layton-Mackay Rehabilitation Centre.
Such committees, she argues, support clients at the local level using people who understand the problems. Advocates for people with disabilities fear the abolishment of things like users’ committees under Bill 15. Vulnerable users and patients, they point out, would be left in the lurch.
“To the point where they have nowhere to go, no place to reach out, and no help to support them,” Charron stressed.
It will end up making difficult living conditions and challenges accessing care and support even worse, her brother John Cody argues. He has reduced mobility and uses a wheelchair.
“Well, I think that’s the fear,” he pointed out. “I think that it’s becoming more of a bureaucracy and a bureaucracy isn’t known for its ability to listen.”
Quebec Liberal Party health critic, André Fortin, believes that what he sees as a top-down approach to implementing the legislation will spell disaster.
“There’s no way that Santé Quebec, with all of its priorities, would be as in-tune to the needs of the community as the people,” he reasoned.
People with disabilities say they want to be heard and urge the Quebec government to include them in any decision-making.