Letter to Premier François Legault
I am a healthcare professional, woman and mother. I never know when I will be able to leave work. More often than not, at the end of my shift, I am told that I have to stay and do mandatory overtime. Then I have to quickly find someone I trust to take care of my children. That’s something me and my nurse, licensed practical nurse, respiratory therapist, and clinical perfusionist colleagues have to deal with. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a social network that is nearby and gives them peace of mind. We all have to be creative to live with this daily mental load and find solutions on very short notice. What would you do in our place as a father? How do you think we feel when we miss a birthday, a bedtime, or a family outing? Let me tell you, it’s difficult, but we do it with courage, determination and strength.
Like most of my colleagues, I am exhausted and in distress. I am scared of doing something irreparable to my patients, in spite of myself. Tired after 12 or 16 hours of work, it is unrealistic to think that I can always be on the lookout to give my patients safe, quality care. If I was driving a heavy vehicle despite a lack of sleep, would you let me get on the road? I doubt it.
Despite advances in women’s rights in the last decades, it’s as if we were being forced to backtrack and obey without saying anything. You, woman healthcare professional, you must be dedicated, silent, and even feel lucky to be able to work. After all, it’s your vocation! Because we are 90% women, we have to face organizational violence by way of mandatory overtime. And you, Mr. Legault, by refusing to eliminate it for good, you are complicit in this violence.
And yet, you have the ability to make the change required to allow us to have family-work-personal life balance. To ensure we are respected. To allow us to work in a safe environment where we can deliver quality care. So that I can, finally, practice the profession I was trained to do. The way to relieve our distress is simple: “Take care of us, improve the organization of work, offer quality jobs.” These objectives can be achieved in several ways, including having 4/33 schedules, organization of work time, self-scheduling, schedules at least 6 weeks in advance, and stable work shifts. This is especially important for a predominantly female sector!
As long as these demands, which were negotiated, are not respected, and mandatory overtime continues to be a management method in the health network, you, Mr. Legault, remain responsible for the exodus of the pillars of expertise currently underway.
Finally, to my colleagues who are reading this, I would like to say to you:
“It’s only been ten thousand years they’ve been talking over you, dominating you or calling you crazy, now the wind is just starting to turn, and some are already complaining that you talk too loud.
[…] They built the whole world on your back, if you stand up everything will tremble, it will be beautiful!” (unofficial translation)Amélie Barrette, Status of Women Committee