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Quebeckers must have access to Quebec health care innovations

Piece co-signed by Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, and a collective of business stakeholders, and published in La Presse+.  List of signatories follows.

A dynamic and innovative economy must draw from all of its key sectors.For a long time, Quebec, and Montreal in particular, has benefited from the contribution of the life sciences and health technology (LSHT) sector. Highly concentrated in the metropolitan region, this sector generates $5.6 billion a year for the economy and supports 56,000 high-added-value jobs. As a whole, Quebec is one of the top 15 LSHT hubs in North America.

Our universities, hospitals, research centres and companies all contribute to LSHT, a cutting-edge sector that advances discoveries in genomics, biotechnologies, the pharmaceutical industry and health technologies. It is also one of the main application sectors for big data and artificial intelligence. Quebec and Montreal are internationally recognized leaders in this field, of which we can all be proud.

Yet, a persistent weakness limits our growth potential. We are lagging behind other territories when it comes to using innovation in our own health care system. In some cases, our own innovations are used in other parts of the world, while we don't have access to them.

Why deny our companies the opportunity to develop their businesses here? Moreover, why deny Quebeckers the benefit of home-grown innovations?

We can act

The Government of Quebec must absolutely create an ambitious strategy to modernize our health care system and increase its effectiveness. It is urgent that we further integrate cutting-edge technology, medication and medical equipment into the health care network, especially when we know that Quebec companies are developing these kinds of innovative products.

Integrating health care innovations, for example, by investing in open data and digital data, will help improve quality of care and reduce costs while making it easier to commercialize products developed by Quebec businesses and while generating significant economic benefits. Ultimately, patients and our entire society will come out on top, which is why we need to put every effort into improving this situation.

To harness Quebec creativity, expertise and know-how for the benefit of our public administration, we propose creating the position of “innovation commissioner” at the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux. The government could then explore the possibility of creating similar innovation commissioners at other key ministries.

The commissioner’s mission would be to help integrate innovations within our health care institutions and ensure they are tested and implemented as quickly as possible. To speed up this modernization, the commissioner would act as a liaison between institutions and the resources required to make these projects a reality. We also suggest creating incentives for institutions that successfully improve their processes and achieve efficiency gains from integrated innovations; for example, they could keep the money they save for other projects. Finally, the commissioner would also be responsible for encouraging and supporting innovative pilot projects by using funding intended for economic development.

We must build on the strength of our LSHT sector to transform our health care system and thereby contribute to Quebec’s prosperity. Our entrepreneurs and researchers are working on the health discoveries, treatments and technologies of tomorrow: let’s give ourselves the collective means to benefit from their work.


Hélène Desmarais, Chair of the Board of Directors and CEO, Centre d’entreprises et d’innovation de Montréal, Member of the Board of Directors of the CHUM and CHU Sainte-Justine
Pierre Boivin, President and CEO, Claridge Inc., Member of the Board of Directors of the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation
Mélanie Dunn, President and CEO, Cossette Canada, Member of the Board of Directors of the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation
Michel Décary, Consulting Partner, BCF, Member of the Board of Directors of the IRCM
Gaétan Morin, President and CEO, Fonds de solidarité FTQ 
Raymond Bachand, President, Institut du Québec
Andrew T. Molson, Partner and Chairman, RES PUBLICA Consulting Group, Chairman of the Board of the MGH Foundation

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