The Shriners have just released their decision not to maintain their hospital in Montreal, but rather to move it instead to London Ontario.
Their reasons to leave Montreal after being in this city since 1925 are quite general and somewhat vague.
They talk somewhat about the fact that Quebec has dithered on the relocation decision for their hospital for 62 months, and have still not come to a definite place, time and date.
What they don’t talk about however is the following:
The construction of a new Shriner Hospital will cost an estimated $80 million (US funds), no matter where they build it, so money really isn’t an issue.
To leave Montreal for London Ontario means moving patients and relocating valuable staff. It also means moving far away from New England which uses this hospital for the treatment of their children.
It would seem to me that the Shriners would be far better-off staying in a city where they have a long and illustrious history, where they have a tremendous infrastructure, and where they are very much a vital part of the community.
So what are the Shriners not saying?
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do the simple math, and determine that your doctors, nurses, therapists and other skilled healthcare providers will save an enormous amount of money paying Ontario taxes opposed to Quebec taxes.
Then there’s Bill 101, Quebec’s Language law that forces all medical professionals to pass a French language proficiency test to be able to work in Quebec.
The administration also has to be fluent in French to communicate with the Quebec government. And all of their hirings and internal communications must conform to Bill 101.
Ontario has no Language laws. Therefore; it will be far easier for the Shriners to attract the best of the best in the healthcare field.
The Shriners are world renown for their generosity and implementation of child healthcare, and that is only what they want to be known for. Everything else to them is off limits.
They won’t talk about politics or political social issues.
All of that said though; they are not politically blind, deaf and dumb. They see what is happening in Montreal because of racist Quebec language policies.
They see the writing on the wall just like anyone else who cares to look.
They hear the acrimony from the Quebec government and elitist Quebec institutions such as the St Jean Baptist Society that “Anglos” aren’t wanted.
And they know enough to know that long term planning is better planned for an area that is guaranteed a long term.
Think of the Shriners as just another “Anglo” institution that has made the decision to move out of Quebec for all sorts of publicly declared reasons other than the real reason.
The Shriners departure from Quebec is far from the first, and just as far from the last. Nonetheless though, their leaving makes a far broader statement than all of the little companies which leave, will leave, and have left Quebec.
Quebec hasn’t just lost another business or hospital. This time Montreal’s lost an institution and a major part of its history.
Even now as I travel to Montreal (quite regularly) I often think of all the landmarks that no longer exist. I think of the restaurants that were once great Montreal institutions, and I feel very saddened for their loss.
There is no longer a Miss Montreal, Ruby Foos, Sam Snyders or Brown Derby.
The Montreal Forum is for all intent and purposes gone. There is no longer the Montreal Expos. And Blue Bonnets is a whisper of what it once was.
And what about English hospitals like the Queen Elizabeth that isn’t even a memory any longer?
Even Dorchester Street is now named after Quebec’s first Separatist leader, Rene Levesque.
And now the “Montreal” Shriners Hospital.
This is the price of ethnocentric Québécois nationalism, and the failure of people to say no to racist laws that diminish humanity.
This is just one more nail in an “Anglo” Montreal coffin that is all but sealed.