The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec – FIQ is very disappointed with the little content included in the bill tabled by Health Minister Christian Dubé to limit the use of private agencies. “The FIQ has been leading the fight against independent labour in the health network for over 15 years. The network’s dependence on employment agencies is a scourge that must be stamped out. Tabling a Bill should be a clear signal that the Minister wants to really address it. It’s clear that he has delivered what amounts to very little and unfortunately the agencies will continue to run the show, to the detriment of the healthcare professionals loyal to the public network”, stated Julie Bouchard, President of the FIQ.
A missed opportunity!
Better regulate the use of agencies in order to completely abolish them, while improving the working and salary conditions of the healthcare professionals in the public network. “The two should be done at the same time if we want to achieve the desired objective. You can’t have one without the other, as the healthcare professionals chose to go work for private agencies. It was mainly to escape the working conditions in the public network. The ongoing provincial negotiations and a Bill with teeth suggested that this was possible and that we might be able to turn things around. What a missed opportunity by the Minister” concluded the president.
Moreover, the Minister has repeated many times the importance of participating in negotiation forums. “We are still in the same place on this issue of forums. It is no longer the time to increase the places of discussions which go round in circles. Everyone knows the problems, and the solutions too. This needs to take place at the bargaining table! He needs to give mandates to his representatives to discuss the real issues”, stated Ms. Bouchard.
Between regulations and directives
Historically, both private agencies and healthcare institutions have found all sorts of ways to circumvent the rules. Even when the government asked the institutions to plan for a proportion of unfavourable shifts in relation to the total number of shifts worked by agency personnel, this never happened in most of the healthcare institutions in Québec. “Why not go all the way to the end by tabling a comprehensive and substantial Bill? The government seems to push the problem forward rather than attacking it head on. Let’s be clear, there has been enough managing by the government behind closed doors – through regulations -, it brings us back to the days of ministerial orders. The rules should be specified in the Bill and debated in the National Assembly. And the government gives itself full discretion to make whatever rules it wants, sparing itself a debate in the National Assembly,” denounced Ms. Bouchard.
If one thing is clear for the Federation, it is that the very existence of the agencies directly depends on the poor working conditions in the public network. They offer better working conditions, control over the work schedule and more, while charging exorbitant prices for their services. These agencies have had both hands in the candy bowl for many years now. That is what we expected the Minister to address”, added the union spokesperson.