More than a year after filing the union demands on the healthcare professionals’ working conditions, the delegates representing all the FIQ and FIQP affiliated unions at a virtual Provincial Council on December 8, 2020, adopted a sectoral tentative agreement on working conditions.
With this agreement the FIQ will at last be able to set in motion its solutions, tried and tested for years, for attracting and retaining healthcare professionals in the health network, badly hit since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time, the APTS-FIQ Alliance is continuing its work at the intersectoral table on the salary, pension plan, parental rights and regional disparities. As soon the FIQ and APTS delegations adopt an intersectoral agreement, a global tentative agreement – which will present the entire content of the new collective agreement – will be submitted to a vote by all the FIQ members, The referendum will be held online.
Content of the tentative agreement
You can find general information on the tentative agreement about working conditions in the Info-Négo No. 18. Local teams are also available to answer your questions. Work will continue at the bargaining table on salaries, retirement, parental rights and regional disparities in order to fully conclude the next collective agreement. The content of the agreement will be presented in full at local general assemblies once the whole agreement has been reached. Members will then have all the information they need to vote on the agreement at an online referendum.
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Frequently asked questions
Tentative agreement – Stable teams to reduce the work overload
Tentative agreement – All unique, all important
Tentative agreement – CHSLD and EPC: a first step towards healthcare professional-to-patient ratios
Tentative agreement – Attract and retain healthcare professionals in the network, thanks to additional money
Info Nego vol.1 no.18 – A tentative agreement on working conditions
A tentative agreement is signed when the two parties agree on the major principles which will make up the collective agreement, without writing the texts. This document is submitted to the FIQ delegates who decide if they will then submit it to the members, who will validate that this broad outline meets the members’ needs and corresponds to the negotiation draft.
A tentative agreement is the result of a bargaining process between two parties. It must be understood that each party wants to solve their own problems and each of them has its own vision of the necessary solutions to be put forward. At the end of the negotiations, some of the initial demands may be fully included in the tentative agreement, others may be modified and lastly, some will be put aside by each party.
The tentative agreement will be submitted to an electronic vote once a global agreement has been concluded. Once the members have ratified this tentative agreement, the work on writing the texts will begin. If the process follows the usual pattern, the collective agreement could go into effect in the middle of 2021.
According to public health experts, since vaccinations have begun, it is expected that conditions will return to normal by late winter or spring 2021. The texts for the new collective agreement will be written during that time. The new texts will probably be signed and put into effect after the public health crisis and once the abusive use of the ministerial orders has stopped.
The tentative agreement is based on the principle of work team STABILITY, light years away from the culture of mobility and flexibility which has been at work in the network for years and which has greatly contributed to the deterioration of the healthcare professionals’ working conditions and whose failures have been brought to light by the COVID-19 pandemic. This work team stability is part of the many measures which, together, will eliminate the work overload, fight against mandatory overtime and, in the end, pave the way to implementing safe healthcare professional-to-patient ratios.
Adding positions and upgrading to full time
By having more full-time healthcare professionals we can truly stabilize the teams, reduce the workload, facilitate access to time off and reduce MOT. To be attractive, positions must be stable, interesting and facilitate work-personal life balance. Full-time positions also ensure better financial support now, and at retirement.
The goal is to attract those who have left the network through measures to stabilize work teams in a centre of activities and on a permanent shift, reduce the work overload and mandatory overtime, which will eventually allow the establishment of favourable conditions for the implementation of safe healthcare professional-to-patient ratios.
Moreover, the FIQ negotiated the necessary tools to not only significantly reduce the use of independent labour, but also the priority of healthcare professionals in the health and social services network over those from employment agencies, who will only have access to shifts not taken by the health network healthcare professionals. The FIQ believes that, in the end, many agency employees will return to the network.
Three upgrading periods and two posting periods are planned over the duration of the collective agreement. The first upgrading and posting period will take place in the 60 days following the collective agreement going into effect.
Not at all. Upgrading to full-time will only happen on a voluntary basis. The employer will not be able to post part-time positions until these targets are met. The government has agreed to maintain the specified percentage of full-time positions. The full-time position targets are set at 80% in CHSLDs, the emergency department, in obstetrical units, and at 70% in other centres of activities. There will always be a certain percentage of part-time positions, but with this agreement, professionals will see the benefits of having a full-time position.
For healthcare professionals to have the opportunity to obtain a full-time position on the shift of their choice on a 24/7 centre of activities, all vacant positions will be posted simultaneously in the first upgrading exercise for these centres of activities. These positions will be posted as full time and employees who so want can change centre of activities or shift.
All part-time healthcare professionals on a 24/7 centre of activities will be offered the chance to become a full-time employee on their shift and centre of activities during the upgrading process. The decision will be up to each of them since the upgrading exercise to full time on 24/7 centres of activities is on a voluntary basis
It is undeniable that the main feature of the tentative agreement is work team stabilization on a centre of activities and shift. After the collective agreement goes into effect, certain provisions can be reviewed and agreed on at the local level, in particular the centre of activities, float team, compound positions and the rotation shift.
Moreover, through the massive posting of full-time positions for 24/7 centres of activities and CHSLDs that will take place in your institution, you will be able to apply for these positions, which will be on one centre of activities and a permanent shift.
The tentative agreement stipulates 3 upgrading exercises. However, if the set target for a centre of activities is reached after the 1st step in the upgrading is carried out, this puts an end to the upgrading process for the employee.
It is important to understand that the 1st step will be carried out regardless of whether the set target is reached or not, and without a maximum, so all employees in the centre of activities concerned who wish to obtain a full-time position will be able to do so.
For the 2nd and 3rd upgrading exercise, the prerequisite for starting the upgrading process is that the set target has not been reached.
No. The previous upgrading processes were negotiated at the local level and were often preceded by an evaluation of the centre of activities’ needs, and rarely from new money invested in it.
In this tentative agreement, the FIQ negotiated an investment of new money to upgrade the existing job structures and add 1,000 full-time equivalents for CHSLDs and 500 full-time equivalents for 24/7 centres of activities dedicated primarily to medicine and surgery centres of activities.
An employee who wants to voluntarily upgrade her position during the full-time upgrading process cannot do so partially by adding a few days to have, for example, an 8 day per two-week position.
However, an incumbency process of 7 days per two weeks will take place for all healthcare professionals incumbents of a position with fewer days.
If the set target for a given centre of activities has not been reached, the employer will be obliged to change part-time positions into full-time positions before posting them.
Posting part-time positions will only be possible when the set target is reached. In this tentative agreement, the FIQ negotiated an obligation for the employer to maintain a proportion of 70% or 80% of full-time positions based on the centre of activities concerned. In the end, the balance between full-time and part-time positions will be reached.
Increasing the number of healthcare professionals who work full time will increase the number of care hours. Therefore, there will be a reduction in the workload, overtime and mandatory overtime. Everyone wins: less exhaustion, better access to the time off in the collective agreement, especially statutory holidays and annual vacation, a stable schedule, in short, a significant improvement in work-family-personal life balance is expected.
Moreover, the tentative agreement negotiated by the FIQ provides access to a 9/14 schedule for those who are incumbents of full-time evening positions on 24/7 centres of activities, like those who work the night shift, which will improve the quality of life for healthcare professionals working on the inconvenient shifts.
Outside a pandemic situation, an increase in the number of healthcare professionals who work full time will increase the number of care hours. Therefore, the workload, overtime and mandatory overtime will be less.
Recognition of education
There is no change in the collective agreement for the nurse who decides to pursue her studies to obtain a bachelor’s degree with certificates. The collective agreement will be applied in the same way for the recognition of echelon advancement based on the number of credits obtained.
However, when she has completed her studies, the recognition of the Bachelor of Nursing will not be on a set date, but automatically when the employee presents her diploma.
The additional compensation will be granted for an employee with a job title requiring a university degree and who has a master’s or doctorate in the same discipline or related discipline to her job title. Moreover, the diploma must be above the academic requirements stipulated in the List of Job Titles.
Training budget for SNPs
Yes, the FIQ negotiated a new amount of money and this budget is separate.
The FIQ negotiated a budget of 0.03% of the wage bill for all healthcare professionals. The wage bill for Class 1 has always been on the rise over the years and it is to be expected that the allotted amount will increase as healthcare professionals are added in the health network with the addition of the full-time equivalents and SNPs. The average amount should therefore remain around $2,000 for the duration of the collective agreement.
Upgrade of the number of workweek hours
There will be a 37.5-hour work week for clinical perfusionists and respiratory therapists who work in 24/7 centres of activities or on two different continuous shifts, and for all healthcare professionals who work in CLSCs and northern clinics. The added 2.5 hours per week will be eligible for RREGOP and represent more care hours for patients. These hours are often already worked but not paid. This represents up to a 7.14% pay increase.
Several recommendations were made, including increasing the workweek to 40 hours, following the work carried out by an advisory committee, which included five SNPs from different institutions and various specialties. It appears that it is difficult for many SNPs to have their almost daily overtime recognized, which is, in a best-case scenario, paid at straight time and registered in a bank to take back. The objective of this measure is to ensure a stable compensation which will be eligible for the pension plan, while spreading out the work over the course of the week.
Critical care premium
Healthcare professionals will receive the specific critical care premium of 6% and the enhanced specific critical care premium of 7% for hours worked in an obstetrical care (mother-child) centre of activities providing 24/7 care.
The obstetrical care or mother-child centre includes antepartum, delivery and postpartum.
Pregnancy follow-ups in a clinic and pediatrics are not included.
The ratios versus the care hours target per bed per year
The care hours target per bed per year that was negotiated by the FIQ is 470 to 500 care hours per bed per year. This target will be used to build the job structure in every CHSLD and private subsidized institution (EPC). The number of healthcare professionals who work “on the floor” will therefore be established based on the care to be given to each patient. By way of example, the target of 470 to 500 care hours per bed is converted into average ratios per dyad (nurse and licensed practical nurse) in the following way:
- Day : 1 dyad for 24-25 patients
- Evening: 1 dyad for 30-32 patients
- Night: 1 dyad for 44-47 patients
The work carried out through the pilot projects has laid the basis for the dyad structure that we want to implement in all CHSLDs in Québec.
In 24/7 centres of activities, all part-time positions at 4/14, 5/14 and 6/14 will be increased to 7/14 six months after the collective agreement comes into effect, so after the first posting of vacant positions and the first upgrading period.
For those who work in other centres of activities, the clauses in the collective agreement will apply as soon as it comes into effect, unless otherwise stated. Consequently, employers will proceed with upgrading the incumbency.
In 24/7 centres of activities, there will be a full-time upgrading period within the 60 days following the coming into effect of the collective agreement, as well as a broad posting of full-time positions. As such, it would be difficult to upgrade the minimum incumbency at the same time, so it was postponed to 6 months after the collective agreement comes into effect.
The list of employees who want to withdraw from the incumbency process makes it possible for employees who meet the criteria to do so voluntarily. As such, employees pursuing full-time studies are in no way obligated to withdraw from the incumbency process. It is up to them to decide. They can therefore request, based on the conditions stipulated in the collective agreement, a leave without pay or part-time leave without pay for study.
Independent labour (IL)
While the letter of understanding does not include a reduction target (because the situation varies greatly between institutions), there is leverage stipulated in the letter of understanding to ensure work is done, both at the local and provincial level, to properly address each situation. The employer will have to send the union data on IL (data that is next to impossible to get at the moment) and reduce IL, especially on the day shift in order to prioritize network employees when setting schedules.
Pilot-project on the transfer of expertise in emergency departments
Yes, the main goal of the pilot-project is to enable the employee in question to pass on their knowledge to the person who will take on the job, as well as to the whole team of healthcare professionals working in the emergency department.
No. Staggering one’s work hours is done on a voluntary basis. The employee is free to revert back to the weekly work hours stipulated in the collective agreement.
Letter of Understanding No. 19 regarding the organization of work time
Yes, according to the conditions agreed upon by the local parties.
Weekend diligence premium
The FIQ’s initial request was to double the weekend premium for all healthcare professionals. The FIQ negotiated ardently with the government but the employer party was in no way willing to double the weekend premium, not for 24/7 centres of activities, nor for all network employees. However, the FIQ kept insisting and the employer party complied with a few aspects. This is a significant breakthrough for healthcare professionals because the weekend premium hadn’t been reviewed since it came into effect over 30 years ago.
For several rounds of negotiations, the FIQ has been demanding that overtime hours be paid after the regular hours stipulated for the job title for nurses with a university degree. In the 2011-2015 collective agreement, the FIQ succeeded for nurse clinicians, nurse clinician assistant-head-nurses and nurse clinicians assistant to the immediate superior who work in centres of activities where services are provided twenty-four (24) hours a day, seven (7) days a week.
For this tentative agreement, the rule for overtime remains the same for nurses with a nurse job title that requires a university degree. However, for many nurses who have a job title that requires a university degree, the number of hours in their regular work week will be increased, thus narrowing the gap for being granted hours paid at time and a half for overtime.
In negotiations, choices have to be made in order to make the most gains for all employees represented by the FIQ. After analyzing all of the employer party’s demands, the Negotiating Committee decided to agree to repeal the article stipulating that work done on a weekly day off is paid as overtime since withdrawing it in no way changes the other rules, in particular with regard to overtime, which is payable after a regular workday or a regular workweek. Furthermore, case law states that a part-time employee will be paid at a regular rate if they have not worked 5 days, even if they were available to work.
Full-time employees will continue to be paid when they work more than their workweek, as was the case before this article was removed, since working on a weekly day off means working more than one’s regular workweek. Part-time employees will be paid the same as full-time employees, i.e., for more than their workweek.
That way overtime pay will be equitable for employees regardless of whether they have a full-time or part-time position.