This summer has been particularly difficult in several Quebec institutions, but that didn’t slow down your engagement and solidarity! Many of you have spoken up, made denouncements, forced your employers to listen to your solutions, and got involved in visibility actions for provincial negotiations. In this blog post, I would like to applaud your exceptional work in the face of the many challenges you encounter every day. I know that you put the health of your patients first and that it can be difficult at times to reconcile one’s care ideal with what can realistically be provided in the field.
As you surely know, on August 21, I met with Premier François Legault and Sonia LeBel, Chair of the Conseil du trésor, who is also responsible for public sector negotiations. I was accompanied by Françoise Ramel, Vice-President, and Jérôme Rousseau, Vice-President and Joint Political Officer for provincial negotiations. This meeting was a follow-up to a discussion that I had earlier this summer, on July 11, in Winnipeg, at a breakfast organized by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU).
At the meeting, I reiterated to the premier the importance of speeding up negotiations because things are seriously going downhill in the health network. While negotiations continue at the bargaining table, all the same, the premier still has to give his team clear directions so that negotiations can move ahead more quickly. We managed to get a verbal commitment from him, but we are well aware that their actions this fall will tell us a lot more about their intentions!
We didn’t come to any agreements at the meeting, but I made a point of telling Mr. Legault and Ms. Lebel that our members have enormous expectations and they must be met. The 80,000 healthcare professionals we represent are growing impatient, and all pressure tactics are on the table. Time is running out. We need structural measures, like a law on safe ratios and to put an end to mandatory overtime, to ensure care teams are stable and to improve care safety.
I also made sure the premier understands that you are the main experts in the field, and that you know what solutions need to be implemented to restore the public network. What you need is to be listened to, and for the solutions you propose to be implemented. We are up against many challenges. What comes to mind in particular is the structural healthcare reform, Bill 15, and the government’s tendency to focus on privatization. These major projects will impact your working conditions, as well as the accessibility of free, universal health care for the Quebec population.
You know that, as president, it is my responsibility to carry your message to the highest levels. We won’t leave anyone behind: the negotiated solutions must bring benefits to all of our members, regardless of their job title or care unit!
If the government wants to improve conditions for public network healthcare professionals, it needs to first and foremost understand that viable, efficient solutions come from the field! You demonstrate flexibility every day. The government should take a cue from your flexibility in the negotiations underway!