Caitlin Drouillard, Senior Consultant
The Top Line
With one calendar year left in his mandate as Premier of Quebec, François Legault has articulated a path toward the 2022 provincial election in an inaugural speech presented in the National Assembly in Quebec City yesterday afternoon. For the CAQ government, the address signals significant re-calibrating in the wake of the pandemic, it is a forward-looking vision that seeks to position the Province on a trajectory toward prosperity, clean growth and national cohesion.
The Premier’s vision for Quebec centered around the need to consolidate advances that were made during the pandemic, fix what’s broken and seize opportunities ahead.
The Provincial Health Care System
The pandemic shed light on the existing challenges experienced by the provincial health care system as a whole and Premier Legault did not shy away from acknowledging that the province needs to act to ensure the continued sustainability of public health care delivery province wide. This includes senior care and the management of CHSLD’s (Resident and Long Term Care Centers). Today’s speech committed the Government of Quebec to building up and reinforcing the Province’s public health care system and noted that as a province, Quebec must not be dependent on private agencies for resource management within the health sector.
In the months ahead, the Government of Quebec will be announcing changes to the management of resources in the public health care sector – this includes the decentralization of databases and service provision to the regions and sub regions of the province. It also means improved conditions for health care workers, the hiring of more health care workers, and incentives for students studying to assume a role in the provincial health care system. Premier Legault referred to the recent conclusion of an important agreement with specialists province wide, and firmly called on family doctors to do their part in adapting to changes.
Additional changes to the province’s health care system will involve:
- Continued and enhanced digital health care service provision, such as telemedicine and digital consultations.
- Mandating the publication of recommendations on how to best approach at home care for an aging population.
- Digital citizenship identification, which will allow Quebecers to access services online with ease.
Addressing provincial health care challenges will require cooperation amongst a multitude of stakeholders in health care and the Government, and the Premier is making it very clear that improved health care for citizens of Quebec is a top priority. A major Bill is expected to be tabled in the months ahead that will outline how the Government plans to review and address health network functions across the province.
The Premier made a number of announcements devoted to improving the wellbeing of children and youth, while recognizing the work that is often assumed by women:
- In the coming days, the Government of Quebec will be unveiling an action plan to address the 37,000 positions that need to be filled in order to meet the demand for public day care services.
- In the coming months, the Government of Quebec will unveil an action plan to combat mental health issues experienced by youth.
- The Government of Quebec will also implement more recommendations from the Laurent Commission, which investigated the shortcomings of youth protection services.
- Day care educators, nurses and teachers can expect to see an increase in salary.
Premier Legault also referred to the fact that 82% of students leave school with a diploma or certificate in Quebec, and that the province will aim towards a new target of 90%. This will be accompanied by significant investments in education, and strategically integrating apprenticeships into education.
An Autonomous Economy and Quebec as a Green Energy Hub
Premier Legault made several references to the fact that Quebec based companies were able to pivot operations to meet urgent supply chain needs over the course of the pandemic. He also applauded Quebecers for doing their part in consciously supporting Quebec businesses. The following commitments were made to jump-start and safeguard the province’s economy:
- In the coming months, a vast campaign aimed at promoting Made in Quebec products and services will be unveiled.
- In an effort to solidify domestic supply chains, the Government of Quebec will be announcing support initiatives for Quebec based companies who are willing to replace reliance on production activities abroad.
- Support initiatives will also be unveiled to assist organizations in training and retaining talent.
- Support R&D initiatives and match research to production in an effort to increase exports.
The Premier also expressed his vision for Quebec as an international hub for battery production, the electrification of collective transportation, as well as green hydrogen. Given the province’s recent historic multiyear and multi-billion-dollar deal to export hydroelectricity to New York, as well as the number of Quebec based companies that are considered industry leaders in vehicle electrification – this is a vision that certainly resonates.
Culture, Language and Values
The need to transmit a sense of shared citizenship and pride to the next generation will be prioritized in the Government of Quebec’s actions over the course of the next year. According the Premier, this will involve:
- Unveiling a plan to reinforce heritage buildings and shared public spaces.
- Developing province-wide tourism incentives for Quebecers.
- Prioritizing courses on Quebec culture and Quebec citizenship.
- Enhancing sport and cultural programing.
- Prioritizing Bill 96, which – among a series of sweeping language law reforms, recognizes French as the language of the nation of Quebec.
- Remaining firm on the CAQ Government’s secularism law, known as Bill 21, which is being challenged in courts.
Premier Legault also spoke to the need to address racism, particularly towards indigenous communities. Though, he also mentioned that Quebec has a very minimal amount of racism compared to other jurisdictions.
Launching a fresh session is useful for Premier Legault and for the CAQ at this stage in the mandate. Procedurally, any Bills remaining on the Order Paper from the previous session dies, which allows the Premier to be selective about what to prioritize for adoption in the coming months. That will most certainly include Bill 96, the overhaul Charter of the French Language, as well as an upcoming bill likely to be introduced by the Minister of Health, that will seek to address many of the challenges in Quebec’s health care system.
A debate on the Premier’s inaugural speech began at the Assembly’s sitting today and will continue up to 25 hours in total (across multiple sittings).
No Cabinet shuffle is expected, meaning Government Programs and Bills will be carried out by the same Ministers and Ministerial teams as before.
What This Means for You
A challenge for stakeholders will be making sure that the impact of significant pieces of legislation that have wide reaching implications, such as Bill 96, are thoroughly reviewed and organizations have the processes in place to adapt. Earlier this Fall, the Government of Quebec ushered into law sweeping reforms to privacy legislation as well, which will also require organizations operating in the province to ensure proper compliance measures in the handling of personal data.
Finally, for stakeholders in the health care sector in particular, major changes are expected in the coming months and the Premier noted in the speech that cooperation amongst health care stakeholders such as professional orders, unions, associations etc., will be necessary. It is important that stakeholders in the health care sector remain informed on any change that may impact their operations provincially.