Quebec premier touches on health, education in New Year’s message



After a year that ended with uncertainty and turmoil for many in the province, Quebec Premier François Legault took to social media to wish Quebecers happiness in 2024.


In his video message, the premier said his first wish was one of good health for all Quebecers in the new year.


“Because taking care of our people is the most important thing,” Legault said.


This comes as collective agreement negotiations between the Quebec government and thousands of health care workers remain deadlocked.


By the end of December, the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), which represents 80,000 Quebec nurses and other health care workers, said it was still awaiting a deal with the government.


In the last few weeks, many other unions, including those part of the Common Front, have announced tentative deals for their workers after months of negotiations and strike action.


The FIQ says there are still significant disagreements at the bargaining table regarding workload, overtime and compensation for evenings, nights and weekends.


WATCH Quebec Premier François Legault’s New Year’s message below (in French):



Throughout 2023, controversy has also swirled around Bill 15, Quebec’s health care reform, with critics worrying it could weaken the province’s health care system by creating yet another level of bureaucracy.


Nevertheless, the bill was passed in early December after the government invoked closure.


At the time, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said he was tired and in a hurry to move on as the bill had already been subjected to more than 200 hours of study.


YOU ARE OUR FUTURE


In his New Year’s video, Legault also wishes the province’s youth success in their studies.


“We need you, your ideas and your energy to transform Quebec,” he said. “You are our future. I am very proud of you all.”


Nonetheless, the last year was not without contention on the education front as the government announced it would be charging out-of-province students more to study in Quebec.


The announcement was heavily criticized, including by the province’s French-language universities.


Despite the backlash, Quebec Higher Education Minister Pascale Déry confirmed last December in a letter sent to the rectors of Quebec’s three English-language universities, McGill, Concordia and Bishop’s, that tuition fees for out-of-province students would go up 30 per cent from $9,000 to a minimum of $12,000 per year.


Déry also announced that non-Quebec students would be required to learn French and be at a Level 5 in order to graduate.


Legault finishes his New Year’s message by acknowledging that 2023 was not the easiest, “but I’m confident for 2024 because Quebec is an extraordinary nation.”



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