If Christian Dubé is at the forefront to defend his health reform, it is Deputy Minister Dominique Savoie who will be responsible, behind the scenes, for carrying out the vast transformation of the health network.
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“This reform is the Savoy reform. She has a huge influence on Minister Dubé, he adheres to her vision of things, ”supports a source well versed in the matter, who requested anonymity.
The Minister of Health Christian Dubé would see his role as that of a chairman of the board of directors of a company, estimated his former chief of staff, without going that far.
“He says that Mr.me Savoie is like the general manager of the shop, that she takes care of the operations. He is there to speak on behalf of the shareholders, the Quebecers,” illustrated Jonathan Valois.
Moreover, Christian Dubé himself does not question the importance of this high official, in whom he sees a woman of confidence.
“Without her, we wouldn’t be here today. She’s gonna have to retire at some point, but if I can stretch her, I’d like her here until we deliver. [Santé Québec]“, he confided in an interview.
Arriving as Deputy Minister of Health in the midst of the pandemic, Dominique Savoie held a leading position in the management of the second wave of COVID-19. Then, at the request of Christian Dubé, she wrote the Savoie Report on the governance of the health and social services network, which inspired the bill creating Santé Québec.
According to our information, Mr.me Savoie was considering retirement after filing his report last June. But a discussion with Christian Dubé would have convinced her to change her plans.
“Mr. Dubé really wanted her to continue,” said former adviser to Prime Minister Legault’s office, Pascal Mailhot.
As a result, the Deputy Minister will be called upon to play a crucial role in the reform of the health network: between now and the appointment of the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Santé Québec, she will be at the head of the transformation committee in charge to abolish the regional agencies – the CISSS and the CIUSSS – and to consolidate the 34 establishments of the network into a central body.
During this operation, 30% to 40% of the employees of the Ministry of Health will be transferred to the new agency.
It is this small group of managers who will decide, among other things, which employees will be reassigned. He will also have to make recommendations for all the changes necessary for the creation of Santé Québec, including the integration of computer systems, for example.
“At the head of this committee, Dominique Savoie will have a lot of influence, underlined our anonymous source. By choosing which civil servants go to Health Quebec, it will give color to the organization. These are the people who will show the “top guns” [du secteur privé] how to do their job when they arrive.”
Besides Mme Savoie, the cabinet of Christian Dubé indicated that the transformation committee will be made up of “actors from different backgrounds”, including “people on the ground”.
“We are aware that this is a major culture change and we will do things in order,” it was said.
“No one was able to clean it up, then she came in and fixed it.”
This is what several former collaborators of Mme Savoie, who rubbed shoulders with her at different times in her career in the public service.
In the early 2000s, the Deputy Minister of Health worked at the regional office of the Ministry of Employment and Social Solidarity in Montreal. It was the time of a major reform in this department after the repatriation of federal employment services to Quebec.
“She took care of the repatriation, it was a real headache in Montreal. Since his passage, there is no longer any issue, ”explained a former collaborator whose identity cannot be revealed.
Then, as Deputy Minister of Transport from 2011 to 2016, Dominique Savoie notably had to enforce the recommendations that resulted from the Charbonneau commission.
on the sidelines
“He is an extremely rigorous person, a relentless worker, someone who can take on an extremely complex situation, easily grasp its contours and propose solutions to deal with it,” said the former Liberal minister. Pierre Moreau, who worked with her.
But in 2016, Dominique Savoie found herself in the midst of turmoil when the Ministry of Transport faced allegations of irregularities, finding herself “on the sidelines” at the Ministry of Executive Council.
“It was very difficult for her to find herself in the middle of a partisan war when she had nothing to be ashamed of,” recalled Pierre Moreau.
When he was appointed Minister of Energy, Mr. Moreau asked Philippe Couillard and the secretary general of the government to have him as deputy minister.
“At the time, the CAQ was the second opposition party, and Éric Caire asked very insidious questions about it. I had been warned that it was going to make sparks, but with someone so competent, I could put up with it easily, ”he explained.
Mr. Moreau judges that it is “rather ironic” to see today that Mr.me Savoie received its “certificate of excellence” even though the CAQ is in power.
“He must look a little sheepish, Mr. Cairo, when he meets her in the corridor,” mocked the former minister.
Until the end
The former chief of staff of Christian Dubé, Jonathan Valois, worked very closely for two years with Mme Savoy.
“She is an exceptional woman,” he said.
When it is pointed out to him that it is unusual to see a civil servant at the end of her career dealing with such an important reform, Mr. Valois nods.
“It’s that we are facing a real mandarin of the Quebec state, it’s a sign of his dedication,” he said, referring to these very senior officials who remain in place despite the changes of government.
“It will be the high point of his career,” added Pascal Mailhot. It is logical that it is she who is transforming the health network. He’s probably the person who knows the bill best.”