Budget cuts might be less than feared
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 20 janvier 2011
CSSS Exective Director Francine Dupuis
The budget cuts imposed on the CSSS Cavendish, the health and social services center serving Montreal’s centre west area, may not have the negative impact that some community members had feared. Different groups had voiced their concerns in response to several changes to the structure of healthcare services in the west end and in Quebec in general.
The CSSS Cavendish underwent a major reorganization, including the disappearance of the community organizer position and the incorporation of three historic long-term care centres: St. Margaret’s, Father Dowd and St. Andrew’s residences.
“We got many calls from concerned seniors following the announcement of the reorganization,” recalled CSSS Cavendish director Francine Dupuis. “We called them all back individually to reassure them that all services will continue.”
“The idea that there will be a reduction in service is just not true,” she affirms.
In contrast, Dupuis insists that reorganization and mergers result in a more “stable structure,” ensuring better service as resources are pooled and healthcare coverage is extended. The eventual integration of the Catherine Booth Hospital will also add that institution’s service departments to the network.
The budget cuts follow the implementation of Bill 100, a plan to reduce the provincial debt, which includes $730 million in cuts aimed at administrative costs in the healthcare system.
The NDG Community Council, like other local groups, was initially worried by the cuts, since they were not consulted before the changes came through. In addition, the departed CSSS community organizer sat on many community committees and tables.
“Other sectors have lost their community workers,” mused the council’s executive director Halah Al-Ubaidi. “We’re lucky to continue the relationship we have, and we don’t want it to change,” since their primary CSSS-community liaison person has remained in place.
Dupuis has been in close contact with the council and promised to inform them of any changes.
The St. Raymond Habitation à loyer modique (HLM) tenants’ association has announced its intention to march in protest in the spring if the three-day-per-week community worker position is not reinstated.
“The cuts are hard on everyone, at least at first,” agrees Dupuis. Many direct services to citizens and seniors will be taken over by volunteers, freeing trained healthcare workers to perform specialized tasks. These programs largely benefit vulnerable groups such as those living near the poverty level.
“People with degrees should not be doing grocery service. This is the perfect task for a volunteer,” says Dupuis.
Dupuis does not foresee more budget cuts in the near future, and definitely no more mergers, since all possible public health institutions on the territory have already integrated, with the pending addition of the Catherine Booth Hospital.
“This is a difficult period and we’re trying our best, but it’s not easy. We’re working hard on the quality of the service, because we know it pays off in the end.”