FIQ (Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec)

Union Victory at CHSLD Denis-Benjamin-Viger: the end of a long legal battle for better working conditions and better patient care

Union Victory at CHSLD Denis-Benjamin-Viger: the end of a long legal battle for better working conditions and better patient care

While the chaos in the CHSLDs during the first wave of the pandemic is reverberating throughout the province today, an important chapter is closing at the CHSLD Denis‑Benjamin‑Viger after a hard-fought battle by the nurses and licensed practical nurses working there. “It took six years of collective, individual, union and legal steps, public denunciations and tens of millions of dollars to force an employer to schedule enough staff to meet the patients’ needs and hence guarantee the quality of care. Finally, the Québec Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the healthcare professionals for having denounced their work overload. This long saga that is coming to an end must be an opportunity for real awareness” stated Johanne Riendeau, President of the FIQ–Syndicat des professionnelles en soins de santé de l’Ouest‑de‑l’Île‑de‑Montréal (FIQ-SPSSODIM).

Reminder of the facts

Remember that it was in 2016 that the healthcare professionals at the CHSLD filed a workload complaint and requested a Committee on Care meeting. They felt they were responsible for too many patients to be able to provide safe, quality care. In 2018, they won an arbitration decision in which the arbitrator ordered the employer to create healthcare professional positions. “During this first round, a damning expert’s report was rendered underlining that certain situations denounced by the union party and the caregivers bordered on abuse for the residents of the CHLSD”. Despite this, the employer stubbornly pursued the legal path and  sought judicial review of the arbitrator’s decision, a decision that was  common sense. Appealing the arbitrator’s decision at the Court of Appeal forced us to enter a fight that has just ended with a decision in our favour from the Court of Appeal”, explained the union spokesperson.

That the voices of healthcare professionals have finally been heard

This victory is in large part that of the nurses and licensed practical nurses who spoke out denouncing not only their working conditions, but especially the poor quality of care given at the CHSLD Denis‑Benjamin‑Viger. “Daring to speak out in a health network is courageous, but necessary.  We must break the stranglehold managers have over their employees and continue to encourage and support the healthcare professionals at the CIUSSS de l’Ouest‑de‑l’Île‑de‑Montréal who will continue to do so”, continued Ms. Riendeau.

The pandemic has highlighted the reality of care quality and patient safety in a CHSLD. There is an urgent need to act and please, let’s implement safe healthcare professional-to-patient ratios”, added Ms. Riendeau.

Despite this major victory, some shifts are still vulnerable and precarious at the CHSLD Denis‑Bengamin‑Viger. “We will spare no effort to ensure that both in that CHSLD and elsewhere in the CIUSSS, the healthcare professionals are able to provide safe and dignified health care to the patients. We hope that in future workload files, the members’ demands are taken seriously by the Employer to avoid another legal saga”, concluded the president.