FIQ (Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec)

Ratios at the heart of a debate in the National Assembly

Ratios at the heart of a debate in the National Assembly

Over the last few days, the ratios proposed and demanded by the FIQ for several years were at the heart of a debate in the Québec National Assembly. Out of the blue, the Parti libéral du Québec (PLQ) tabled a motion demanding the government implement ratios in the healthcare network now, a motion that was debated for more than two hours. Two hours during which the opposition parties repeated several times that implementing safe healthcare professional-to-patient ratios, as demanded by the Federation, was necessary and the evidence was overwhelming. Two hours during which the beneficial effects of the ratios projects conducted by our organization were mentioned repeatedly.

This incident shows once again that our proposal is promising for the future of the healthcare network and it is no surprise to see more and more rally to our safe ratios solution. In seeing that all the opposition parties would take the same stance Thursday afternoon, I was very proud of the path our organization took in this fight to obtain ratios for the entire healthcare network. This fight we are waging for the healthcare professionals, but also for the patients in Québec.

But, this debate on the ratios is also the scene of a political contest. When it came time to vote on the motion, all the opposition parties and independent MNAs voted in favour of rolling out the ratios except those from the CAQ. While the MNAs with 62% of the votes in the last elections pressured the François Legault government to offer this so needed and awaited breath of fresh air by the healthcare professionals, the CAQ MNAs chose to vote against it. By using the “because it’s not coming from my political party, I am blocking it” method, the CAQ government chose to play the famous political game that only increases the public’s cynicism for the political class.

Moreover, while this is going on, healthcare professionals don’t have time to play. They are too busy, overworked, taken hostage to work mandatory overtime (MOT) and discouraged because they cannot provide their patients with safe, quality care.

On March 10th, Éric Girard, Minister of Finance, will table his budget. During his pre-budget consultations, I clearly asked Mr. M. Girard to reserve money in the next provincial budget to ensure a gradual rolling out of ratios for the whole network, starting with ratios in the emergency departments in Québec. At that meeting, the Minister of Finance showed openness and listened to our organization’s demands. As for the Minister of Health and Social Services, Danielle McCann, the new disasters in the Emergencies and dismal failure of her winter clinics over the last few weeks couldn’t be more telling.

Ms. McCann knows very well that traditional management methods are not enough. By voting against the PLQ motion, she thereby denied the findings she has already seen, such as distress, burnout, excessive workload and a staff shortage have a direct impact on the care given. Remember, the Minister of Health stated many time she is in favour of the principle of ratios. She now needs to go a step further in following up on this promising solution for the healthcare network’s future.

Ratios make it possible to have complete and stable work teams, acting directly on the healthcare professionals’ excessive workload and MOT. We will attract healthcare professionals to the network in this way, keep them healthy and they can provide the patients with safe, quality care.

Therefore, the next budget will be important. This government will have the chance to show us that besides the political contest we witnessed this week, it is capable of rising above partisan politics to put the common good first. If their desire to prioritize health is real, this will be an opportunity to show it by making ratios the cornerstone of a new way of seeing organization of work and delivery of care in the healthcare network.