We all got the message, the government wants to recruit more beneficiary attendants (PAB) in the health network. It says it every day, tirelessly, as if it were a magical spell that will solve everything, as if all healthcare workers were beneficiary attendants. Don’t get me wrong, there is clearly a need for more PABs, but by emphasizing the need for one profession in particular, the government is creating an imbalance.
When the government talks about the health network, it’s confusing. It’s a very complex system—too complex, some would say—and yet the government takes shortcuts all too often and uses overly simplistic solutions. It even goes as far as to systematically avoid naming our professions, as if healthcare professionals’ (predominantly female) work wasn’t invisible enough already! All the same, patients need care and to receive care, they need nurses, licensed practical nurses, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists (among others).
For healthcare professionals, these repetitive announcements about PABs are very worrisome. Licensed practical nurses are particularly worried, as they are already concerned about the very future of their profession. The government is saying that with training that is six times shorter than theirs and has less obligations, PABs could be paid an almost equivalent salary. We’ll circle back to appreciation, recruitment and retention another time! No matter how hard we look for common sense in this statement, we won’t find it. The government will clearly need to take another stab at this because the damages caused by such iniquity will go beyond repair.
The CAQ government has shown contradictory behaviour on several occasions in the last few weeks: Our public demonstrations “disappointed” it and now it is asking us to the bargaining table when it’s the government that isn’t showing up. The government says it doesn’t want to negotiate in public and yet that’s what it is doing on the platform it created. It says it thanks us but then turns around and gives employers disproportionate powers via ministerial orders and comes to us with an unacceptable offer, without having even reworked it.
Faced with such indifference, attacks and attempts to divide us, we only have one choice: to unite to move forward and provide care. Right now, we are reclaiming our right to vacation time: it’s a right, not a luxury! We need it to get through this pandemic and to continue to care for patients. We are reclaiming ratios to be able to provide safe, quality care to the population. We are demanding that our solutions be implemented in order to resolve the problems we are denouncing. Now that is common sense!
Negotiations are more crucial than ever. We cannot afford to hide behind the pandemic to delay necessary action that will resolve the situation. This crisis is shining a spotlight on the urgent need for action; should the government do the opposite, it would be clear neglect of its duty to healthcare professionals, the health network and the population. And this is why we will continue to take a strong stand, using every means possible, to make our solutions heard.