FIQ (Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec)

Secular Charter: a respectful and democratic debate

As a labour organization representing the vast majority of the healthcare professionals in the health network, of which 90% are women, the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec is solicited from all sides on the question of the Secular Charter. In fact, since August 2003, whether it is the media, the unions affiliated to the FIQ or the healthcare professionals who are members, they have all looked to the Federation to know where the organization stands in the debate.  Therefore, it is only natural that the FIQ examine the issue.

Meeting in a Federal Council at the beginning of December and asked to take a position on the Québec Secular Charter, the 600 delegates of the Federation took a position. Their reflection was rooted in the results of a broad consultation, started in September and conducted at all levels of the organization, particularly with the presidents of the affiliated unions and with a representative scientific sample of the 62,000 members under the FIQ banner.

The Federal Council delegates therefore were able to benefit from a solid basis on which to start their reflection. They questioned all aspects of the project, shared their own experiences, as women and as healthcare professionals, and held a debate filled with respect, a listening ear and solidarity. Following the rules of democracy, every person was able to share their concerns and arrive at an enlightened decision, which was then freely expressed through a secret ballot.

In the end, the delegates decided at 80% in favour of the proposed Charter. If most of them who voted against the project then chose to rally to the majority, some, however, thought that an expression of their dissidence represented, for them, the best way to defend the values and convictions of the members that they represent.

Balancing the promotion of collective values and orientations with the defence of individual rights constitutes the daily routine of the union reps of the Federation. It is with this view that the delegation stressed that, while being strongly in agreement with the proposed project and the under-lying principles, for them it remains of primary importance to insure the setting up of a process that will guarantee that the provisions of the Charter, in the event that it is passed, will be applied with sensitivity and respect. In addition, the delegation reiterated the commitment of the FIQ to give the members who are sanctioned all the support needed to ensure their rights are respected.