FIQ (Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec)

<em>2023-2024 Budget</em> : <strong>clearly insufficient and won’t meet the needs of the health network and healthcare professionals who work in it</strong>

2023-2024 Budget : clearly insufficient and won’t meet the needs of the health network and healthcare professionals who work in it

The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec–FIQ is extremely disappointed in the budget Finance Minister Éric Girard presented. The FIQ has been demanding massive reinvestments and support for care professionals, but clearly the government is not putting its money where its mouth is. “Why is the government lowering taxes when money is needed for the health and social services network? Minister Dubé talks about the importance of rebuilding the network and says that there are major issues, which is why he announced his health plan. The population no longer even has access to a healthcare system, to which it is entitled. Despite everything, the government is making a populist political choice, i.e., tax cuts, depriving itself of over $9 billion in revenue over six years. It makes no sense,” declared Julie Bouchard, FIQ President.

The FIQ was expecting a budget that actually reflected the challenges at hand. While the spending percentage seems relatively high this year at 7.7%, this same percentage is down to 2.1% for the following year. “It’s obvious it will be grossly insufficient and won’t meet the glaring needs of the health network and we don’t understand the government’s evaluation. We cannot allocate such small amounts if we want to save the public health network. It is no longer enough to maintain the network as it is. It will take massive investments to turn things around,” explained the president.

Healthcare professionals forgotten once again?

Upon seeing the budget today, the Federation foresees dark days for the negotiation of healthcare professionals’ collective agreement and for the public health network. The government’s initial offer is included in the budget and is still completely insufficient. Moreover, once again, there are no measures to attract and retain healthcare professionals in the budget. The government did not turn its verbal recognition of healthcare professionals’ work into real action. 

“There is no clear sign that the government has allocated the funds needed for the network to recover and for patients in Quebec to regain access to safe, quality care. How does the government expect to significantly improve working and salary conditions for healthcare professionals and have the funds to attract new ones? This means uncertainty for the 80,000 healthcare professionals we represent,” said Ms. Bouchard.

The Federation would have also liked to see funds dedicated to implementing safe healthcare professional-to-patient ratios in this budget, a solution that would resolve many problems in the network. Working conditions and quality of care are extremely important to healthcare professionals and are highly interdependent. “If we have learned something in the last few years, it’s that what the health network needs most are stable, fully staffed work teams. We cannot implement ratios from one day to the next in the whole network, but we need to start gradually putting them in place now,” explained the president.

Independent labour

Minister Dubé’s intention to eliminate independent labour (IL) also isn’t apparent in the Finance Minister’s budget. “The lack of new measures to stabilize work teams means that nothing is being done to stop the exodus to private agencies, mandatory overtime, job-title substitution, care rationing, work overloads, and absenteeism. We can’t say it enough: to wean the health network off independent labour, we absolutely must improve healthcare professionals’ working conditions,” concluded the union spokesperson.