Constitutional lawyer Julius Grey announced that he is launching a legal challenge against the Quebec government’s regional medical workforce plan, known as the PREM which restricts how many GPs — family doctors — can work in which regions.
Grey will be asking for an immediate interlocutory injunction, saying the PREM’s implementation would be unconstitutional. He wants the injunction instituted before a full case against the plan is heard.
The lawyer was reacting to Quebec health minister Christian Dubé’s announcement that 30 family doctor positions were being reassigned from Montreal to the suburbs, a decision Le Devoir referred to as “an intervention of unprecedented scale.”
According to reports, the number of doctors allocated to Montreal was reduced from 102 to 72, and those assigned to the Montérégie was increased from 67 to 90.
“I hope a judge will overturn these administrative changes and make the system inoperable,” Grey told the media during a press conference Friday. “We can’t give the government too much time, because the case is really urgent.
Grey’s points are that the system is unfair, that a lack of family doctors in an area affects the security of individuals and affects the public’s right to mobility.
Mark Roper, a family physician and director of the primary care division in the Department of Family Medicine at McGill University, told the media that some 650,000 Montreal island residents do not have a family physician.
Dr. Roper added that the government is not correct about how many doctors are needed in Montreal, and are placing the health of residents at risk as a result.
He told the media that Quebec should be “an importer of family doctors, as we were before. Since the arrival of the PREMs, we have become an exporter. The reality is that the number of spots available on PREMs is about five per cent less than the number of graduates.”
The Liberal Opposition has accused the CAQ government of moving doctors to areas where the government is most popular, as a political move to benefit CAQ regions. The provincial election is taking place next year.
Dubé denies this, saying all Quebecers must receive equal treatment and that he is reacting to data showing there are fewer doctors in particular regions.