Quebec Children First!

Talking Points on Complementarity 

The Montreal Children’s Hospital supports complementarity. In fact, we already have a number of shared programs and services with Ste-Justine’s and we are continuing to develop more.

Over the past months, the issue of complementarity has been at the forefront of the MUHC’s discussions with the Government of Quebec. A preliminary proposal was recently tabled on pediatric complementarity, which we think is outrageous. This proposal would harm the quality and accessibility of pediatric care. With that in mind, we have prepared the following talking points outlining the principles that are guiding our approach to these discussions. We encourage you to share these messages with friends, family and opinion leaders.

MCH: Our Mandate

An important part of McGill and the MUHC, The Montreal Children’s Hospital is a centre of excellence that is internationally recognized for its high quality of pediatric care, teaching and research. Our commitment is to build on this strength and to remain a full service university teaching hospital. On this we will not compromise. 

The Montreal Children’s Hospital needs to remain a full service pediatric health centre to fulfill its role within the McGill RUIS and provide specialized care to 23% of Quebecers who live in areas that cover 63% of the province’s land mass, and to ensure that McGill has the capacity to train the next generation of health care professionals and develop the treatments and medications of tomorrow.

A full service pediatric teaching hospital is essential to retaining and attracting top professional talent to McGill and Montreal , thus enhancing our city’s reputation as a leading health centre in North America .

The existence of two separate research centres is good for the city and for children’s health innovations for obvious reasons: there is more research being done, and competition has tangible benefits. As well, because of its connection to an adult facility, The Montreal Children’s Hospital offers unique research opportunities since it allows researchers and clinicians to follow patients with chronic problems throughout their lives. The fruitful relationships that exist between The Montreal Children’s Hospital pediatric researchers and their colleagues in adult medicine and life sciences have taken years, if not generations, to build – we cannot afford to put this at risk.

The medical faculty is undeniably one of McGill’s most important assets, in fact it was just named the top medical school in Canada by Maclean’s Magazine. The Faculty of Medicine must have a full service tertiary institution to fulfill its teaching mandate. 


Complementarity is not a new concept. For years, The Montreal Children’s Hospital and Ste-Justine have been working together on a number of initiatives and are committed to further exploring avenues of collaboration in order to enhance patient care.

The Montreal Children’s Hospital wants the Government of Quebec to withdraw its complementarity proposal. Bureaucrats have no business deciding how health care should be divided up. The data in the government proposal contains inaccuracies and some assumptions we believe are flawed.

We are asking the government to give us more time to allow the health care professionals at The Children’s and Ste-Justine to sit down and work out the many ways we can make complementarity work without jeopardizing the health and well being of the children of Quebec and without needlessly weakening two great pediatric facilities.

We also want the government once and for all to recognize the excellent care provided by the dedicated staff of this hospital to the families of Quebec . The Children’s plays an extremely important role in the delivery of health care and training of the next generation of pediatricians. It is inappropriate for the ministry to characterize us an English-only institution. The Montreal Children’s Hospital is a vibrant and innovative bilingual institution that cares for all children no matter what language they speak or where they live. For over 101 years we have been providing exceptional care and we want our contribution to this province fully recognized and appreciated. We are tired of being marginalized and find the government’s characterization of this hospital as degrading.

Pediatric specialists are in high demand. Moving doctors from one hospital to another sounds easy in principal, but there is no guarantee our physicians will move. In fact, by creating so much uncertainty and upheaval many may choose to leave the province altogether. We can’t afford to lose these individuals.

In our view, it is doubtful that complementarity will improve patient care or save money. We have repeatedly asked the government to show us studies or reports that prove complementarity will cuts costs. To date we have not seen one shred of proof. 

Complementarity should be patient driven and a bottom-up process led by those responsible for the delivery of care – doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, not bureaucrats. Health care professionals are on the front lines and are better placed to decide on shared programs and services because they know what is in the best interest of children.

Having only one fully operational trauma unit for pediatric care in a city the size of Montreal could prove disastrous if there were to be a major emergency in the city. Both trauma units are bursting at the seams. Moving trauma to one facility that is unable to provide complex neurosurgery and orthopedic services is a recipe for disaster and will be harmful to children.


Pediatric patients in Montreal and overall in Quebec are under-served. Both The Montreal Children’s Hospital and Ste-Justine are currently operating at full capacity. Demand is high in comparison to other North American jurisdictions because of the absence of pediatric care facilities outside Montreal . Even within Montreal , parents find it difficult to find a pediatrician and often health care professionals at CLSCs don’t have the skills or training to care for children.

The Montreal Children’s Hospital is officially a bilingual and multicultural institution offering services in French, English and 41 other languages. Today, 40% of our patients are French speaking.

The Montreal Children’s Hospital is a source of pride amongst Quebecers. Over the past 101 years it has been responsible for a number of medical breakthroughs on an international, national and provincial basis.

One of the principal reasons the Shriners has decided to stay in Montreal is the benefits of being integrated with a full service The Montreal Children’s Hospital, its neighbour on the soon-to-be-built Glen Campus. This must not be put at risk by reducing the scope of The Montreal Children’s Hospital or delaying the construction of our new facility. 


The Montreal Children’s Hospital of the MUHC

Facts at a Glance

A proud tradition of pediatric excellence

Founded in 1904, The Montreal Children’s Hospital was created to provide specialized health care to children who, until then, were treated in general hospitals alongside adults. Over the ensuing 101 years, The Montreal Children’s Hospital has gained an international reputation for its quality of care and for the ultra specialized care provided in many fields including: cardiology and cardiac surgery; neurology and neurosurgery, traumatology; genetic research; psychiatry and child development and musculoskeletal conditions, including orthopedics and rheumatology.

The Montreal Children’s has also been responsible for a number of medical and hospital firsts, which have enhanced and saved the lives of countless Quebec children.  

These include:

  • The first operation in Canada to repair a congenital heart defect (1938);

  • The first open heart surgery on a child in Quebec (1957);

  • The first hospital in Quebec with a Pediatric Burn Unit (1971);

  • The first bone marrow transplant in a pediatric setting in Canada (1980);

  • The heart transplant to the youngest recipient ever in Canada (1988);

  • The first hospital in Quebec to offer MRI scanning to children (1993);

  • The first successful liver transplant to the youngest recipient ever in Canada (1985);

  • The first operation in Canada to insert a mechanical heart device ( Berlin heart) as a bridge to transplant on the youngest patient ever in North America (2002);

  • The first hospital in the world to use Botox to help a newborn who was drowning in his own saliva (2005).  

Operating at full capacity

Whether a child arrives through emergency, or by referral, the staff at The Children’s works seven days a week, 365 days a year to keep pace with the increasing demand for services.

  • As part of the McGill RUIS, The Children’s is responsible for providing highly specialized care to 25% of Quebec children in a area totaling 63% of the province’s land mass; from the Ontario border to the Western half of Montreal and north to James Bay and Nunavut.
  • The Children’s emergency department receives nearly 65,000 patients a year – 30% more than the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children. Ste-Justine also treats 65,000 in their emergency department. Each facility sees more emergency patients than the Royal Victoria Hospital and the Montreal General Hospital combined because of the lack of alternative services for children on the island of Montreal .
  • The Children’s team of 273 physicians, 500 nurses and 1,500 allied health professionals treat over 185,000 children ranging from newborns to 18-year olds annually. Surgeons perform over 6,000 operations annually, and more that 7,000 children are admitted to the hospital per year.

Working with Ste-Justine to provide innovative care to Quebecers

The Children’s and Ste-Justine are both committed to providing the highest quality care to patients and their families, training the next generation of pediatric specialists and developing innovative pediatric care. The dedicated doctors, nurses and researchers of both institutions seek ways to collaborate and share resources in order to improve the health care provided to Quebec children. 

  • The Children’s and Ste-Justine have developed complementary clinical programs in critical areas such as cardiology, genetics, emergency medicine, neonatology, neursurgery, orthopedics and intensive care. These patient-driven programs were initiated by health care professionals and are tremendously successful both in terms of improved care and efficient use of resources.
  • Researchers at both hospitals benefit from a healthy climate of professional competition for grants and often collaborate on research projects that put Quebec on the international stage.

A hospital serving all Quebecers – in their language

Fully bilingual and multicultural, The Children’s is proud of its ability to serve an increasingly diverse Quebec community. In fact, it was the first hospital in Canada to set up a hospital-wide multiculturalism program in 1985.

  • 40% of patients are Francophone, 40% Anglophone, 20% Allophone;
  • The Children’s provides services in 43 languages to ensure excellent communication and the highest quality care.

An international leader in teaching and research

Affiliated with McGill University since 1920, The Children’s has conducted some of the most advanced pediatric research in the world and has a record of medical education excellence. 

  • The Children’s has 50 researchers (investigators) who receive peer-reviewed funds.
  • In 2004, the budget at The Children’s research institute was close to $12-million.
  • In 2004, The Children’s researchers published a total of 302 publications (articles, book chapters, books) of which 222 were peer-reviewed articles.
  • The Children’s trained 72 medical residents, 152 McGill medical students and 219 nurses in 2004-2005.
  • McGill is the top research university in Canada according to Maclean’s comprehensive listing, Quebec’s leading medical research university, and one of the top 25 universities in the world, ranked with among the very best with Harvard, Oxford, Stanford and others.

 The Children’s provides exceptional care to all children no matter what language they speak