Healthcare professionals from the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec–FIQ and FIQ | Secteur privé met in front of the Lakeshore General Hospital to reinforce the importance of significantly improving their working conditions and quickly. “We have been negotiating for more than a year. Everyone knew, well before the pandemic, that the healthcare professionals’ working conditions had become unbearable. The last few months have felt like a tsunami on both the professional and personal lives of the nurses, licensed practical nurses, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists. In the heart of this second wave, and on the eve of a time of year that is always difficult in the health network, the government has to make an additional effort and reach a tentative agreement with us”, stated Nancy Bédard, President of the FIQ.
A context that leaves its mark
Remember that at the heart of the healthcare professionals’ demands are the work overload, healthcare professional-to-patient ratios, especially in CHSLDs, and the demand to make full-time positions more attractive. For the Federation, there is no doubt that the pandemic and managing the workforce with ministerial orders make the context especially difficult. “Despite some major gains at the bargaining table over the last few weeks, the current situation requires additional measures that will give the necessary boost that the healthcare professionals need so badly. The government took away all their rights which makes the issue of making full-time positions attractive a sensitive one and it is important that it is addressed properly. Some progress has been made, but additional measures must be found so that healthcare professionals want to take these positions”, explained Jérôme Rousseau, Vice-President and joint officer for the negotiations.
An urgent need to act
The healthcare professionals are determined to obtain the working conditions that will have significant, beneficial and lasting effects over time, for both them and their patients. “Day after day, the government stresses how fragile the network is, but in fact, it is literally falling apart. If this government really wants a strong and accessible public healthcare system, they must make major investments now in those who work in it. There is a need to value current and future healthcare professionals by letting them practice their profession in optimal conditions”, added Roberto Bomba, Treasurer and joint officer for the negotiations.
Stop the exodus
Several union presidents from the Greater Montréal institutions also attended this mobilization action. “The healthcare professionals can simply no longer continue to work in the current conditions. The work overload issue is always front and centre of our members’ concerns. Already, many of them have left and the exodus will only get worse if the conditions in which they practice their profession don’t change. When they don’t fall ill, they leave to do something completely different or for some, the only possible option for continuing to practice their profession is to work for the private employment agencies (IL). Moreover, the co-existence of network staff with IL personnel in the healthcare institutions is becoming increasingly unbearable. This co-existence adversely affects the healthcare professionals, loyal to the public network, the quality and continuity of care while costing the government more” expressed the union spokespersons. If the Federation really understands the reasons why healthcare professionals decide to go work for the private agencies, it feels that the presence of IL in the public network compounds the healthcare professional shortage. Using them compromises the stability of the work teams and increases the pressure on those in the public network, as they are not subject to the same rules and working conditions. The government must take steps to reduce this dependence of the network on IL. In the short term, they must provide a better framework, and in the medium and long term, they must eliminate it”, concluded Ms. Bédard.