Accompanied by several hundred union members chanting the rallying cry “We’re done working ourselves sick!”, Carolle Dubé and Nancy Bédard, presidents of the APTS and FIQ respectively, walked to the Treasury Board offices to file the intersectoral demands of their 131,000 members today in Quebec City, marking the kickoff of negotiations with the government to renew their collective agreements.
“Improving the personnel’s working conditions also improves the quality, safety and accessibility of the care and services given to the population, stated the two APTS-FIQ alliance representatives. The government must understand that everyone wins: the employees, who are entitled to a more fair recognition of their work; the network, which becomes more attractive to a labour force that it dearly needs; and the population, who can count on better care and services.”
The APTS-FIQ alliance demands include different aspects of the pension plan, to improve flexibility and foster retention of workers on the labour market; parental rights, to better balance them with the real needs; regional disparities, to face the attraction and retention problems of the labour force better, and obviously, remuneration.
“After waiting many years, it is imperative that our members benefit from a significant salary catch-up, improve their purchasing power and participate more in the economic and financial vitality of a once again prosperous Québec, insisted Ms. Dubé and Bédard. This is why we are demanding a 7.2% increase for each of the three years of the next collective agreement. Considering the number of sacrifices made over the years, we’re not asking for the moon, only fair treatment.”
The two presidents stated that their members have paid dearly ‒ in their level of living, working conditions and even their health ‒ for the austerity measures that successive governments imposed on them over the last few years. “The austerity was on their backs: budget cuts after budget cuts, excessive workload, mandatory overtime, staff shortages, etc. We’re done working ourselves sick!” they insisted like their troops.
They insisted that the government has a major surplus and financial leeway to reinvest in the network. Especially since the CAQ has made health and social services one of its three major priorities. The premier himself, in his inaugural speech, recognized that the network’s employees had been “duly tested” and his new government intended to move forward with them “one step at a time, hand-in-hand” to “concretely improve the situation”.
“Therefore, the ball is clearly in his camp, It’s time that the government offers its healthcare professionals and health and social services professionals and technicians real recognition of the essential role they play in the care and services given to the population. The next negotiations will be crucial, not only for our members but also for the health and social services system. The government must truly commit to investing in the human capital of this system to the benefit of all Quebecers, starting with those who have carried it on their backs for years”, concluded the two presidents.
About the APTS and FIQ
The APTS represents about 55,000 professional and technicians who provide a multitude of services in diagnostic, rehabilitation, nutrition, psychosocial intervention, clinical support and prevention across the entire network. The FIQ, represents 76, 000 nurse, licensed practical nurse, respiratory therapist and clinical perfusionist members working in the healthcare institutions in the four corners of Québec.