The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec–FIQ has been telling the government and population for years now that there are not enough healthcare professionals in the healthcare network. It is concerned with what Premier Legault has been saying for several days when it tabled a negotiation project last October 29th with winning conditions to put in place for solving the staff attraction and retention problems, stabilizing work teams and ensuring care safety, particularly in CHSLDs.
Putting real measures in place that first, demand reinvestment, but in the long term, save the Conseil du trésor money, is at the heart of the FIQ’s negotiation project tabled with the government. The health and social services network must be a healthy, safe environment for both patients and healthcare professionals.
“What’s happening in the CHSLDs today has been long known. When a nurse has to cover several CHSLDs, look after more than 50 patients or already has to choose what care she will be able to give, how can we believe that such institutions can handle a pandemic?” stated Nancy Bédard, president of the FIQ.
Safe ratios: when will there be a concrete commitment?
The FIQ repeats that five ratios projects in public, subsidized CHSLDs were carried out jointly in the institutions. “These healthcare professional-to-patient ratio projects showed that ratios lead to safe care, attract and retain professionals in the healthcare network”, explained Ms. Bédard.
There is a consensus on these ratio projects at the local level, unions affiliated to the Federation and institutions. However, the government is ignoring the proof. Instead of putting ratios in place to ensure care safety and that have proven their effectiveness in Québec, in February, the CAQ MNAs unanimously voted in the National Assembly against their implementation. For the FIQ, the government should have acted before this crisis and supported those who built Québec without needing to put the spotlight on the CHSLDs.
Seniors’ homes: an empty shell without the staff
Seniors’ homes are certainly not ensuring care safety without the required personnel. It’s not a cure-all and doesn’t address the heart of the matter. “Having nice premises is great, but having care, that is what seniors really need, and this requires personnel”, indicated the president. Despite repeated demands by the FIQ, particularly in the negotiations to renew the collective agreement, the government prefers to maintain the status quo. There is no workforce planning and no measures in place to increase available personnel.
The situations emerging today are only the tip of the iceberg. In recent years, the FIQ has taken legal steps to get the lack of staff and inability to give humane care in some CHSLDs acknowledged, including the Centre d’hébergement Denis-Benjamin-Viger of the CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île de Montréal. The CIUSSS even appealed the arbitration decision which the FIQ won. Where was the government?
The government chose not to act in a timely manner. Today, the patients and healthcare professionals in CHSLDs are paying the price in the COVID-19 context. It’s not too late to prevent new tragedies by making enough stable care teams a priority in CHSLDS. The population is entitled to have the government clearly commit to safe ratios in CHSLDs.