FIQ (Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec)

Occupational health and safety: labour organizations in the health and social services sector sound the alarm

Occupational health and safety: labour organizations in the health and social services sector sound the alarm

All the labour organizations in health and social services are calling on the Legault government to make the health and social services sector a priority because of the dramatic increase in the number of employee work accidents and employment injuries.

The Comité national intersyndical de prévention en santé et sécurité, composed of the Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux (APTS), Fédération de la Santé du Québec (FSQ-CSQ), Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux (FSSS-CSN), Fédération des professionnels (FP-CSN), Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), Syndicat canadien de la fonction publique (SCFP-FTQ) and Syndicat québécois des employées et employés de service (SQEES-FTQ), deplore that the health and social services sector, which only represents 9.8% of Québec institutions, sadly accounts for 18% of the work accidents and employment injuries in Québec.

Alarming numbers

⦁ Major rise in costs for musculoskeletal injuries (+ 36%), falls (+ 45%) and violent acts (+ 82%), over the last two years.

⦁ Increase of 34% in absent from work hours due to occupational health and safety for all public institutions, going from 3.3 to 4.4 million hours from 2014 to 2018, equivalent to 2,400 full-time people.

⦁ 24.5 million hours in salary insurance for all public institutions in 2017-2018, a jump of 27.7% in three years, equivalent to 13,250 full-time positions.

⦁ Almost 39% of salary insurance files in 2017-2018 involved a mental health diagnosis.

The CNESST and MSSS under a microscope

Faced with this disturbing situation, the labour organizations insist that the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) and Ministry of Health and Social Services’ (MSSS) inaction in prevention can no longer continue.

Therefore, the presidents of the seven organizations are unanimous in demanding that the ministère du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale, as part of revising the Occupational Health and Safety Act, ensure that all current prevention and monitoring mechanisms used in the priority sectors also be in the health and social services sector. They are demanding that prevention in psychological health and violence be a top priority.

“Any partial application of these mechanisms or not rolling them out in the sector would be unacceptable. Therefore, we are demanding that the Minister of Labour take the necessary means for the CNESST to fully assume its role and be given the resources and powers necessary for controlling the effectiveness of the prevention measures taken by the institutions”, insisted the presidents.

The labour organizations are also saying they are amazed that the MSSS and its institutions, who act as employers, do not take responsibility for guaranteeing the personnel’s health and safety, in a context where the network is in great need of all their resources.

Quick intervention required

In conclusion, the members of the Comité national intersyndical de prévention en santé et sécurité are calling on the Québec government, ministre du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale, ministre de la Santé et des Services sociaux and CNESST leaders to assume their responsibilities and intervene at the level required by the current crisis in the Québec health and social services institutions.  “All the prevention mechanisms need to be implemented immediately in the health and social services sector”, insisted the presidents of the labour organizations.

Quotes:

“Not a day goes by that an employee is not a victim of physical or psychological violence, because of the nature of her-his work in the health and social services system. We are collectively depriving ourselves of almost 16,000 full-time people. The CNESST must intervene to ensure both the physical and psychological health and safety of the staff. And the Ministers of Health and Social Services and Labour must also take their responsibility in the file.”  – Andrée Poirier, President of the Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux (APTS).

“We deplore the absence of a general willingness by the institutions’ administrations to identify and truly acknowledge the risks and harmful practices for the personnel’s health and safety and make real corrective measures; the situation at the psychiatric unit at Cité de la santé de Laval is a clear case in point.” – Claire Montour, President of the Fédération de la Santé du Québec (FSQ-CSQ).

“The ministry and institutions are not doing their part. Therefore, the CNESST needs to get to work now and take all necessary measures to control the organization and effectiveness of prevention in the network. The CNESST must completely exercise its mandate. This requires systematic outside monitoring, to ensure that it functions and intervene if it does not function. We know what to do to resolve the crisis, clean up the workplaces, and the CNESST must ensure that this is put in place throughout the network.” – Jeff Begley, President of the Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux (FSSS-CSN)

“The CNESST has not always put psychological health in its intervention priorities. Every time one of our unions is asked by its members to investigate and document the team’s problems, the results show a high level of psychological distress due to workplace factors. It is currently extremely difficult for an employee to have psychological health recognized as an employment injury. People find themselves on salary insurance.” – Ginette Langlois, President of the Fédération des professionnels (FP-CSN)

“Nearly three quarters of workers in Québec, including healthcare professionals, are not always covered by the four prevention mechanisms set out in the law. We have waited 40 years! The current situation is unbearable and includes, for our healthcare professionals, unfair treatment. The CNESST’s inertia for the last 40 years is incomprehensible. The entire healthcare system has suffered during this time! The Minister of Labour must intervene, now.” – Nancy Bédard, President of the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ)

“Too many workers in the health and social services system suffer the consequences on their health from the lack of political willingness on the part of the MSSS and CNESST. A lack of real leadership in occupational health and safety prevention by the CNESST and inaction of our political leaders maintain shortcomings that remain in terms of the modernization of the regulations and has led to the current crisis. We are demanding that the risks and dangers for the workers’ health, safety and physical well-being are eliminated at the source in our care and work settings as advocated in the Occupational Health and Safety Act.” – Frédéric Brisson, President CPAS SCFP-FTQ

“How do you want people who are ill to give care and take care of the world? Government bodies must take responsibility and act quickly in prevention to stop the slaughter. The time is past to hope for a quick recovery for the health and social services system personnel: it’s time to heal this system of the woes overwhelming it.” – Sylvie Nelson, President of the Syndicat québécois des employées et employés de service (SQEES-FTQ)