Today, healthcare professionals with the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec and the FIQ | Secteur privé–FIQP brought a motion before the Superior Court to put an end to what they consider a violation of democracy. The FIQ and FIQP object to the renewal of ministerial order 2020-007, which violates their members’ rights and continues to suspend several provisions in their collective agreement when it is no longer justifiable in this context.
Abusive use of an order
Since the beginning of the pandemic, this order has given Quebec health institution managers exceptional powers, in particular over healthcare employees’ schedules, work locations, vacations and leaves. The use of these powers should change based on how the situation evolves, but there has been an abuse of power. While restrictions are being eased throughout Quebec, healthcare professionals’ working conditions are still under siege, even when the number of cases has been dropping significantly in Quebec healthcare institutions, and some don’t have any at all.
While we must all remain careful, it is clear to the FIQ and FIQP that the pandemic has usurped too much leverage when it comes to their members’ working conditions. “It’s clear that these orders are no longer needed to deal with the public health emergency but instead to manage problems in the network that existed long before COVID-19. The government isn’t protecting the public’s health anymore, instead it’s keeping measures in place that make the managers comfortable. It’s an abuse and violation of democracy. We sent letters, we demonstrated, we used every platform to get our message out… Now we are going to court,” explained Nancy Bédard, FIQ President.
Four months to the day after the public health emergency was declared, the FIQ and FIQP went before the Superior Court with this motion, requesting that the order not be renewed. “Nurses, licensed practical nurses, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists showed up, collaborated and coped with the crisis in an exceptional way. To extend this order is to extend their distress. There’s no logical reason that can justify maintaining these measures: our members have a work contract that contains countless ways to find solutions as needed. Let’s use it!” concluded Ms. Bédard.
In their motion filed with the Superior Court, the FIQ and FIQP maintain that the government is overstepping its powers, as conferred on it by the Public Health Act, and is abusing its power for enforcing exceptional measures. They also assert that ministerial order 2020-007 is clearly violating its members’ fundamental rights, health workers’ rights. It is unfairly stepping on fundamental rights that are protected by the charters, in particular the right of association.