FIQ (Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec)

Reduction of reliance on independent labour – Don’t say just anything!

There is no place in the labour movement for demagogy and lies. While the rigour of Quebec unions is the best gauge of their success, demagogy is probably their worst energy. This is why I feel obliged to intervene today in a debate that should have been constructive, beneficial and necessary – the period of change of union allegiance currently under way.

In this context, if honest criticisms were made regarding the track record of the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec, I would respond more respectfully and would accept the other party’s arguments as having some value. However, today I am obliged to give a rebuttal to one of the grossest demagogical exercises of the past few weeks.

I am alluding to the assertion of Micheline Barriault, President of the Syndicat des infirmières, infirmières auxiliaires et inhalothérapeutes de l’Est-du-Québec (SIIIEQ-CSQ), who claims that reliance on private employment agencies is clearly on the decline in the institutions defended by her union, contrary to the situation in FIQ institutions. I am therefore obliged to set the record straight.

First of all, what the SIIIEQ-CSQ does not say is that expenditures related to independent labour exploded following its court case in 2009, rising from $358,046 to $1,051,658 at CSSS de La Mitis alone. The situation only started to improve in 2013, at the same time that the FIQ was conducting a major media campaign to denounce the inconsistencies in calls for tenders. Several health and social services agencies, including those in regions remote from Montreal, then were obliged to tighten their tendering criteria, making reliance on independent labour less attractive.

Having said this, obtaining gains on a question like this one cannot be the result of a single action, but of a structured approach that persists over time, with precise objectives and concrete means of action, like the approach the FIQ has conducted since 2009. From 2009 to 2011, the FIQ filed no fewer than 30 motions under section 39 of the Labour Code, to have the private employment agencies’ healthcare professionals recognized as unionized personnel, arguing that their true employer was the institution for which they worked, not the private employment agency. Following these motions, recognizing the incongruities denounced by the FIQ, the Ministère de la Santé saw fit to issue a circular, providing for guidelines regarding calls for tenders by regional health and social services agencies for independent labour.

In 2011, the FIQ succeeded in including a clause in the collective agreement, with the objective of reducing independent labour by 40% over 5 years. The CSN, for example, settled for a 25% target determined long ago by the regional agencies. The FIQ also obtained the power to make concrete changes, by sitting on two important committees mandated to reduce reliance on independent labour by 2015, thus acting as the Government’s privileged discussion partner on this question.

I hope my remarks have informed you on the status of this issue as healthcare professionals. As for the other labour organizations, please be rigorous and honest in your statements.

P.S. Madame Barriault, Urgence médicale Code bleu is recruiting for CSSS de La Mitis. Look into it!