In the context of the health emergency, the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec–FIQ and FIQP | Secteur privé saw new directives adopted for stabilizing the teams in the health institutions in Québec and ensuring care continuity. The Ministry of Health and Social Services has thus responded to the FIQ’s demands, which has been on the offensive for weeks, calling for emergency response interventions to counter the rise in the use of independent labour (IL) by managers.
Moreover, the FIQ won a first round in the battle against this scourge in its tentative agreement on December 8 last. However, healthcare professionals demanded immediate actions to put a stop to private interests which want to make a profit on the back of the health network weakened by the pandemic. The government had no choice but to agree with the findings on the devastating effects of IL on the continuity, quality and safety of care, as well as on the injustice denounced by healthcare professionals.
It was obvious to us that the pressure on the healthcare professionals’ shoulders and the coexistence of two systems tolerated by the managers could not continue. It was necessary to obtain dissuasive tools to counter the thirst for profit of private agencies and limit the risks to the safety of care, caused, among other things, by the reassignment of staff. The new directives obtained will help restore this balance. It’s a step in the right direction. We could no longer stand idly by. The upsurge in the use of independent labour by public health network institutions demonstrates the impact of disastrous management and the carelessness of recent years in tackling the problem.Nancy Bédard, President, Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec-FIQ
A part of the solution
By adopting these new measures which are added to the current measures of the ministerial order, the agency personnel will now be assigned on a centre of activities for 14 days, without the possibility of moving or combining assignments. A healthcare professional moved from her regular position cannot be replaced by an agency worker, an unfair situation that had to be corrected. It will also be forbidden to include penalties in contracts for agency workers who want to return to work in the public network. Finally, a 90-day time limit is imposed on agencies before they can hire a healthcare professional from the public network. These new standards will also be accompanied by penalties against agencies in case of non-compliance.
However, the FIQ deplores the fact that the shameful costs generated by the institutions’ use of independent labour are unfortunately not invested to improve the working conditions of healthcare professionals in the public network. The fight against independent labour is part of the solution for repairing the health network. The battle for the recognition of those who provide essential care and services to the population in the public health network must continue. The negotiation of the collective agreement is not over and the mobilization must continue so women in the public health network are the government’s priority.