FIQ (Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec)

Healthcare professionals on the front lines: the government must protect the pillars of its health network

Healthcare professionals on the front lines: the government must protect the pillars of its health network

With a daily report that surpasses 2,500 COVID-19 cases a day, with no indication the pandemic is under control in Québec, the president of the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), Nancy Bédard, is demanding that the government’s new strategy include an increased rate of vaccination while insuring priority for all healthcare professionals in Québec, as well as access to N95 masks. They must be protected effectively and quickly to prevent them falling ill and prevent a breakdown in services in the health network at the most critical time of the pandemic.

“The healthcare professionals are already holding up the network, need I say it again? To continue providing essential care and services, as well as coping with the increase in the number of hospitalizations over the coming weeks, we need all the healthcare professionals to be available. The Minister of Health must avoid the mistakes from the first wave, so the healthcare professionals do not contract the virus, fall ill from burnout or simply leave the network”, stated Nancy Bédard.

The president is also demanding the government be proactive and provide, despite the difficult context, acceptable conditions for ensuring the healthcare professionals’ health and safety, respecting stable work schedules, including periods of rest.

Maximum protection: the most effective tool for protecting the healthcare professionals

The death of a beneficiary attendant from COVID-19 in the Capitale-Nationale region has caused dismay and reminded us once again of the need to act beforehand. The president of the FIQ insists: “The government needs to review its strategy now and apply the basic principles of prevention if it wants to keep healthcare professionals on the job and avoid hitting a wall. The objective is to avoid healthcare professionals contracting the virus, even dying in the worst-case scenario, at all costs. In addition to speeding up the rate of vaccinations, it is high time the government stop debating and give healthcare professionals access to N95 masks when they work with positive COVID-19 clients and/or are at risk of being infected.”

Situation report

For almost a year, the healthcare professionals have been on the front lines, despite the team being exhausted, little time for rest and the application of unprecedented coercive measures including using mandatory overtime (MOT) well before the pandemic began, cancelling time off and vacation, imposing mandatory full-time work and twelve-hour days. In addition to living this unbearable situation for months on end, the holiday season was very difficult. The next few weeks could be just as bad, as there is still the threat for some to have their scheduled vacation called into question or cancelled.

Several of the regions saved during the first wave are now facing outbreaks of COVID-19, while others have reached their maximum capacity. All the efforts demanded by the government, including bans on gatherings during the holidays, have clearly not yielded

the expected results, on the contrary. The slackening seen will put additional pressure on the healthcare professionals.