FIQ (Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec)

FIQ healthcare professionals are going to vote on a strikeOctober 24 and 25, 2023

FIQ healthcare professionals are going to vote on a strikeOctober 24 and 25, 2023

For the first time in nearly a generation, the 80,000 nurses, licensed practical nurses, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists are being called on by the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec–FIQ to vote in favour of a strike. The referendum vote will be held on October 24 and 25, 2023.

“We are announcing a strike because we have no other choice. Our working conditions are already unacceptable and what the government is proposing at the bargaining table is to downgrade them even more. The government won’t listen to reason,” explained Julie Bouchard, FIQ President.

Unrestricted transfers

Over the last few weeks, the employer party has stubbornly maintained its desire to abolish any form of stability for healthcare professionals. This means that the employer no longer wants to be confined to respecting the notion of an institution, the notion of a specialization, or the notion of a shift assigned to a position. It wants to be able to send anyone, anywhere, anyhow.

“What the government wants to do is take, for example, a day nurse who’s been working in a CLSC for 15 years and send her to fill a gap in surgery at the hospital the next day. Not only is this unacceptable for professionals who have an expertise, as well as a personal life, but it’s also quite dangerous for patients. That is what the government wants to do and it’s going to find the FIQ in its way. We are going to strike for ourselves but also for our patients,” added Ms. Bouchard.

Exodus of healthcare professionals

The FIQ would like to remind everyone that there isn’t a real labour shortage in Quebec’s health network. There are 82,000 nurses with degrees in Quebec, 30,000 licensed practical nurses, 4,500 respiratory therapists. If there is a shortage in the network, it’s because healthcare professionals fled the public network, fed up with the work overload and the employer’s lack of respect for their professional judgement and personal lives.

“We are experiencing an exodus in the network, people who are leaving because of the unbearable conditions that we deal with every day. It’s so bad that network professionals would rather go work at Costco or Jean Coutu rather than stay in the network. That’s the real problem,” says Ms. Bouchard.

Ratios, the cornerstone for improving working conditions

According to the FIQ, there is only one real solution for the current situation. This solution has been implemented in Australia and California and they are implementing them in British Columbia and Oregon. They are safe healthcare professional-to-patient ratios.

Improving the salary, compensating evening, night, day and weekend shifts, and making it possible to find a real balance between work and personal life, would give healthcare professionals decent working conditions in an important work environment that is precious to the Quebec population. People still want to receive public care and want to have a strong healthcare network. 

Ratios enable us to work on working conditions from several angles, and healthcare professionals have been demanding them for years. Other Canadian provinces and states abroad have proven it’s possible.

“These other places have understood that the only way to exit the vicious circle is to create conditions, and above all, a workload, in which healthcare professionals can take pleasure in doing their work and using their expertise. If we do this, in just a few years we will see significant changes, but we need to start now. The current government lacks vision,” explained Ms. Bouchard.

Referendum vote

The FIQ’s strike vote will be a referendum. That means that members will vote themselves, online, all across Quebec at the same time. In the next two weeks, the FIQ’s affiliated unions will hold general assemblies to explain the government’s unacceptable proposals so that the health network’s professionals can cast an informed vote.