The FMSQ's Reaction to Proposed Bill no 60

Montreal, November 7, 2013 – In reaction to the tabling of Bill no 60, Charter affirming the values of State secularism and religious neutrality and of equality between women and men, and providing a framework for accommodation requests, the Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec (FMSQ) takes note of the cynicism and cavalier aspect of this Government's action. For more than two months, Quebec has been living in the midst of trial balloons; each one more badly presented that the previous one.

It is clear to the FMSQ that, within the healthcare network, the question of reasonable accommodations is pertinent, while that of ostentatious religious symbols, barring exceptions, is not. "In this regard, the FMSQ is strongly opposed to the application of this part of the proposed Bill, with the exception of those elements requiring faces to be uncovered and any other element that could endanger the safety of a patient from the medical standpoint," states the President, Dr Gaétan Barrette.

In any case, physicians, just like dentists and midwives, are self-employed and have never been considered otherwise, no matter what the circumstances. As a result, their status cannot be assimilated to that of a public servant. "Inventing an expression such as persons considered personnel members of a public body is a gross attempt at manipulation. The Minister must immediately undertake to correct the text to remove physicians from the areas of application covered by this proposed Bill. Never will we back away from this position," continues Dr Barrette.

Minister Drainville has already indicated that he did not want to see the possible adoption of this Charter result in departures by people who work, in particular, in the healthcare network. And yet, the FMSQ is convinced that, in the Greater Montreal area, such a Bill, should it be adopted, would bring about disruptions that would affect the availability of nursing personnel and others.

The FMSQ encourages all the organizations, who have indicated their intention of legally challenging this law should it be adopted, to carry through with their action, because it is a question of principle. "At a time when fundamental rights could be tossed aside, we invite the political class to refuse to be taken hostage by the menace of a vote of confidence and to act according to their conscience, which should normally aim at defending such rights in all circumstances," concludes Dr Barrette.

The Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec represents more than 9,000 medical specialists certified in one of the 53 recognized medical specialties.