FIQ (Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec)

A baron in his golden years: An unexpected ally

Since the creation of our organization, we have always been careful to repeatedly stress the profound inconsistency between two objectives, albeit commendable. Wanting to make money is not a bad thing, we agree. Everyone, in their own way, seeks to improve their lot in life and have more financial resources in order to insure a certain material security for ourselves and our loved ones. This is perfectly fine.

However, wanting to care for people, taking care of them, providing them with a healthy, safe, stimulating and humane environment, that is a completely different objective. That one, I know well, as a healthcare professional, it is often this goal that makes us get up in the morning and fills us with satisfaction at the end of our day.

Making money. Taking care of the vulnerable. To me these are two noble goals which cannot go hand-in-hand, for the simple reason that the desire for profit can only be satisfied in health and social services to the detriment of the second goal. It’s not complicated in health and social services, the expenditure items are the salaries of the workers and the goods and services that we provide to the patients. Therefore, to make MORE profit, the wage envelope for the employees must necessarily be REDUCED and/or cut back on services for the patients. What’s more, when the wage envelope is reduced, services for the patients are irreparably cut back.

In short, even if it seems simple for me to understand, it is at the very least worrisome to note the ease with which we are letting the resources in private for-profit residential care for seniors with loss of autonomy grow at a massive rate. At the FIQ, we have been shouting our dismay at every opportunity about the idea of an entire generation of vulnerable people being delivered into the hands of entrepreneurs in old age and nothing seemed to be being done… until an intervention of an ally as unexpected as effective.

By his legendary candor, his disarming nature and his infinite transparency, Mr. Eddy Savoie, owner of the Résidences Soleil, gives us a practical, irrevocable demonstration every day of the profound incompatibility between hunger for profits and the possibility of offering quality care and services by respected personnel. This man of $1.5 billion should be reluctant to have the scope of his fortune, part of which lies overseas, revealed one fine day last spring.

In fact, once the wealth of his spoils was revealed, it became harder to camouflage his greed with presenting his good works at BD meetings and other ribbon-cutting events intended to feed the myth of a good father figure/builder/nice uncle. Because in order to build such a fortune, Eddy Savoie had to have cut back on working conditions for his employees and on the services for the people living in his residences. The residents and their families intimidated, workers in danger of being sued if they have the misfortune of revealing the poor conditions in which they live and work, so that this man can make a fortune in his golden years. In this respect, despite all the injustices that we see every day as healthcare professionals, the Morrison decision ordering Eddy Savoie to pay nearly $300,000 to Mrs. Pierrette Thériault-Martel, who he sued in a SLAPP suit, gives me faith that in this case, justice was served.

I am also taking this opportunity to express my solidarity with the workers of all categories and organizations who, every day, suffer the effects of the Savoie patriarch. I dare to hope that one day, we will unite on the same front to give a little of this billion and a half dollars to the health workers and the seniors that they care for. I also dare to hope that one day, the Eddy Savoie model in health will be a thing of the past and that public financial resources will not stay in an overseas account of whatever baron in his golden years, but instead will serve to offer a little more dignity.