That’s the key message of a vast televised ad campaign launched today by the APTS-FIQ alliance, as major talks heated up at the bargaining table. The alliance is calling on Premier Legault and Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel to immediately put an end to wage discrimination that has persisted in predominantly female sectors like public health care and social services. To redress this inequity and help attract and retain the thousands of women and men in the public sector who provide care and services to Quebecers, the government has to start changing course right away.
“The expertise of healthcare professionals and professional and technical personnel in health and social services has to be duly recognized. This requires a catch-up increase and major pay increases. Women form the majority of the workforce in the public sector and the health and social services system, and they can’t be treated merely as a public expenditure. The Legault government is proposing a 5% increase over 3 years. This does nothing but perpetuate wage discrimination against our members. Mr. Legault and Ms. LeBel have to get the message: in 2021, we’re done being paid a woman’s wage!” declared the two union presidents, Andrée Poirier (APTS) and Nancy Bédard (FIQ).
Time to end wage discrimination targeting women
For the past twenty years, salary increases for public-sector workers in Québec, including professionals and technicians in health care and social services, have continually failed to keep pace with inflation. For the APTS-FIQ alliance, it is inadmissible that the premier and the head of the Treasury Board are continuing to perpetuate this discrimination in traditionally female sectors. As a result, these professions are devalued in comparison to sectors systematically given precedence by the government, like construction and infrastructure.
The post-pandemic economic situation is no justification for perpetuating wage stagnation and discrimination. Québec’s public-sector workers are the only ones whose standard of living has declined, in stark contrast to employees in public corporations like Hydro-Québec, universities, and the province’s federal and municipal public service.
“With the last budget and the latest management offers, the Legault government has made political, economic, budget and investment choices that favour predominantly male
sectors. When will the time come for feminist choices? Must thousands of women in Québec’s public service continue to be penalized for choosing professions in health care and social services? As a society, we have to ask ourselves that question,” the presidents of the union alliance continued.
The ad campaign (in French) compares masculine and feminine terms that are synonymous, to highlight that they are equally important. But for the Legault government, men’s work is still considered more important than women’s. A radio campaign was launched yesterday, and ads are planned in newspapers and on digital platforms, as well as along highways in the Montréal and Québec City regions, featuring the visuals for the campaign.
“Until the government stops refusing to offer catch-up pay increases and substantial gains in the areas of retirement, parental rights and regional disparities, the APTS-FIQ alliance won’t be able to reach a satisfactory settlement for our 131,000 members,” concluded Nancy Bédard and Andrée Poirier.