The Quebec government is beginning a new session with its number one priority to rebuild the health care system devastated by COVID-19, but already it’s having one of its key pieces of legislation torn apart by family doctors.

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The president of the federation of family doctors, the Fédération des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec (FMOQ) pulled no punches. Appearing before a national assembly commission Tuesday morning, Dr. Marc-André Amyot ripped apart the government bill to give more Quebecers access to a family doctor.

“You seriously think we can compare making a doctors’ appointment to an online hotel reservation? Then you really do not understand the complexity of the situation, ”he said.

Bill 11 would force family doctors to only take on new patients who are registered in an online government portal, similar to Clic-Santé, the website designed for COVID-19 vaccinations.

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Almost one million Quebecers do not have a GP. Amyot said doctors want to take on more patients, but since the start of the pandemic, they have been needed elsewhere – in overwhelmed emergency rooms, intensive care units and COVID-19 units.

During his inaugural speech in October 2021, Premier François Legault thanked all health-care workers for fighting against COVID-19 – all workers, that is, except family doctors. The federation’s president asked why the government has such contempt for them.

“Family doctors are not the scapegoats for the problems in health care, nor the failures of the health system,” Amyot said.

Health Minister Christian Dubé said he believes “the resistance to change, as we describe it, is normal, because of the importance of those changes.”

The minister said he wants to be collaborative. He said he thinks the tone of the debate will soften as the hearings continue. Opposition parties are less optimistic.

“Quebecers are used to this repetitive shouting match between doctors and governments,” said Quebec Solidaire co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.

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Both Québec Solidaire and the Parti Québécois think part of the problem could be solved by giving other health-care professionals more independence.

“We need to end the model where the doctor and the hospital are the core of the system and go towards a decentralized and multidisciplinary model,” said Nadeau-Dubois.

Amyot said Quebec is short 1,000 family doctors and the province must rely more on nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physiotherapists and psychologists.

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