In a few days, it will be one year since the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) was elected to government. There’s no need for an official play by play of this first year in power to explain why healthcare professionals are tired of waiting. Good intentions no longer suffice to appease the distress in the health network. This government, whose campaign slogan was “Now,” is a quarter way through its term. One year later, I would like to ask Mr. Legault and his government, when exactly will “Now” be for nurses, licensed practical nurses, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists?
Budget announcements: déjà vu
It’s interesting to see that the very methods the CAQ denounced in the past are worming their way into their own tactics. The same old recycled investment announcements are clearly feeding cynicism among citizens and healthcare professionals. Just last week, we saw it happen with two announcements for education and health care. The one that more directly affects healthcare professionals mentions using $280 million (already announced in the budget last March) to improve home care services. Big announcements packaged as new investments border on opportunism and frankly, we’ve swallowed enough of this type of political manoeuvring. Let’s hope this government didn’t wait six months to get to work and that it already started investing this money.
A health minister with more bite
It will also have been one year since Madam McCann became head of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux. No one would question the colossal challenges that awaited McCann after years of budget cuts and reforms, but all the same, she clearly needs to raise her voice a notch with employers.
And she should consider herself warned that she won’t get away with avoiding negotiations every time. Healthcare professionals cannot afford to wait for the new collective agreement to see their workloads reduced and mandatory overtime eliminated in order to ensure patients receive safe, quality care. Not only does the government have the power to impose change, it is its duty to do so. Minister McCann has made the promise countless times and takes every opportunity to repeat that she and the government are working on it, but too many employers are still not falling in line.
While many appreciate Ms. McCann’s gentle approach, she needs to switch it into a higher gear. I don’t want to tell her how to proceed, but after what I’ve seen in the last several months, I sincerely encourage her to expand on her ‘incentive’ approach. The time for ministerial directives without restrictive measures for employers is through, especially when it comes to mandatory overtime.
This government has made many promises to healthcare professionals and recognized that their working and practice conditions are intolerable. With winter approaching, a particularly difficult time for healthcare professionals due to a sharp rise in demand for care, it’s more than time to deliver the goods.
Some would say to give her the benefit of the doubt. I’d love to but, after a year, she needs to pick up the pace. Now!