Bloc Montréal adds three candidates, outlines health-care platform

The upstart political party aims to improve working conditions for doctors, nurses and orderlies to help alleviate staff shortages.
Author of the article:
Jason Magder  •  Montreal Gazette, Aug 03, 2022 •  3 minute read

Bloc Montréal would push for the abolition of the PREM permit system that assigns family doctors to certain regions, arguing it would improve the working conditions of nurses and orderlies, and work to improve the overall efficiency of the health-care network.
Created this year, the party aims to give a greater voice to Montreal at the National Assembly.
Party leader Balarama Holness, who ran for mayor last year under the Movement Montreal banner, met with reporters Wednesday to outline his health-care vision. He said his comprehensive plan distinguishes his party from other protest parties that cropped up in the wake of the opposition to Bill 96, a law that aims to bolster protections of the French language in the province.
Holness said while his party stands against Bill 96, Bill 21 and Bill 40, it also has to address the failures in the health-care system, which he said is the top priority for the Oct. 3 election.
“One of the ways to curtail the issue is to ensure you provide more permits for doctors to actually come and work in Montreal, and you have to abolish this provincial program that inequitably distributes the permits, more largely to the regions,” he said.
While there is a large waiting list for family doctors throughout the province, the problem is more acute in Montreal, Holness added .
Three new candidates were announced on Wednesday at Oscar Peterson Park in Little Burgundy, including health-care professor and researcher Janusz Kaczorowski in Saint-Henri—Sainte-Anne. Mauricio Peña in Verdun and Keeton Clarke in Marguerite-Bourgeoys, who both ran for Holness’s Movement Montreal in the municipal election, were also added. That brings the total number of confirmed candidates to five.
Kaczorowski, a research director in the department of family and emergency medicine at Université de Montréal, said the province must look at new models to improve its health-care system. He advocates for the adoption of a system similar to that in the Netherlands, whereby the government lays out the standards and not-for-profit companies provide the relevant services. He said such a model would improve innovation and efficiency.
Bloc Montréal laid out a five-point plan to improve the health-care system:
  1. Installing air conditioning and improved ventilation systems in all CHSLDs in Quebec;
  2. Making the office of the national director of public health independent from the government;
  3. Improving access to family physicians by abolishing PREMs;
  4. Clearing the backlog for elective surgeries by increasing funding and ramping up the use of private clinics;
  5. Implementing a universal public pharmacare system.
The party plans to run between 15 and 20 candidates, all on the island of Montreal. While that means it can’t form the next government, Holness said that won’t stop him from pushing for change and acting as Montreal’s voice in the National Assembly.
“This is a health-care reform that goes across party lines, that anyone regardless of political stripes can agree on,” he said. “A lot of policy throughout the democratic world is not only put forth by majority governments, but by individuals at the National Assembly who present concrete, pragmatic, innovative policies that make sense.”
Kaczorowski added that his party would ensure that any policy adopted by the province doesn’t disadvantage Montreal.
“Despite the fact we are 20 per cent of the province, we have very little say on how our city is being run,” he said. “(Bloc Montréal) is really about emphasizing that we have special needs, that we are different and the current system and parties are not reflecting our aspirations.”





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