The Negotiating Committee of the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec–FIQ was surprised to learn this morning that the Québec government has decided to stop paying some of the premiums for nurses, licensed practical nurses, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists as of September 30.
“The government wants it both ways. They can’t, on the one hand, repeat that they want to increase pay to fill shifts with differentiated offers, and at the same time stop paying premiums that healthcare professionals rely on to buy groceries. At some point, there are limits to saying one thing and doing the opposite”, explained Jérôme Rousseau, Vice-President, and joint officer for the negotiations.
Healthcare professionals affected will lose up to 7.5% on the evening shift, 6% on the night shift and 3.5% for employees working on the day shift. These retention premiums were implemented during the health crisis. The Federation is demanding that they stay in effect until the collective agreement is renewed and the new compensation negotiated for the less attractive shifts goes into effect.
A red herring
The FIQ would like to take this opportunity to make it clear that it is not against remuneration being adjusted to take into account more demanding constraints. However, the FIQ is opposed to the idea of the government choosing arbitrarily, almost individually, and shift by shift, to whom premiums will be applied. Conditions in the network are such that almost all shifts deserve a premium. For example, the Federation is demanding that the salary for weekends is increased by 50%.
“There are plenty of evening and night premiums for some of the more difficult units in the health network. Everyone knows this. It has been like this for years. But what would be unacceptable, and what the government wants to do, is to grant privileges to some professions but not to others, to give a premium to some but not to others, on the basis of vague criteria. We are vehemently opposed to this and it will not go through”, added Nathalie Levesque, Vice-President, and joint officer for the negotiations.
A general run-for-your life situation
The FIQ wants to remind everyone that there have never been so many nurses in Québec. What’s happening in the public health network is not a labour shortage but a run-for-your-life situation created by the deplorable working conditions, and an unreasonable workload, in particular.
“By cutting the premiums, the government continues to worsen the healthcare professionals’ working conditions. They don’t seem to understand the source of the current problem. Let’s stop treating healthcare professionals as interchangeable pawns with no life of their own and treat them as partners who hold an essential part of the solutions. This will be the only way out of the vicious circle into which we have been sinking for decades”, concluded the joint officers for the negotiations.