Dear Mr. Legault and Mme. McCann,
My name is Shelby. I’m a nurse clinician working on a COVID-19 unit in Montreal, the heart of the virus outbreak in Quebec. I’m sure, or at least I hope, that you have received many other letters and testimonials from Quebecois healthcare workers, but I’m going to write my own because there still appears to be no change that we, on the front line, actually feel.
I’m not going to lie, I’m pissed off. I’m angry and I’m frustrated that in a time that exemplifies the importance of nurses in the healthcare system, we are still being taken advantage of. Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system. Nurses are the most important discipline, because if we were to all walk out of the system at once right now, it would completely collapse. Without doctors, we have senior nurses and nurse practitioners that know as well as any first-year medical resident how to care for patients in their specialty. I am in no way saying that all the healthcare disciplines are not important, because they are all essential and invaluable. But nurses are the most numerous and most multi-trained discipline, and the front lines of patient care. And yet they are the most underpaid and undervalued. Somehow the stereotype of being glorified pill dispensers cannot be shaken, though many of us have 5 years of higher education. Do you have any idea the amount of times I myself have told a medical doctor the treatment that was needed, the dosage required, or the test that was essential for one of my patients? I would absolutely love for nurses to be able to wear a body-camera and show what we actually do in a day, especially during this pandemic.
This brings me to why I am more enraged than usual about the treatment of nurses in Quebec. 8%? Is that truly what risking my health, my family’s health, and my mental well-being is worth to you? When we are already the province in Canada that pays its nurses the least, we still do not even meet Alberta’s/Saskatchewan’s/British Columbia’s nurses’ regular salaries with this “premium”. Ah but yes, I’m a “guardian angel”. Angels don’t need money, they survive solely off of their own beneficence. In truth, many nurses are angels on earth. But we’re also highly educated, invaluable health professionals and should be compensated as such. The government has been taking advantage of nurses’ morality and compassion for too long.
8% to the nurses, and around 211$/hour to specialists who agree to work in CHSLDs. A place where nurses already worked for a fraction of that pay. Why not offer that type of money to outside nurses who are actually trained in the care that CHSLDs require? Why overpay a discipline that is already well compensated for their work and not trained in nursing care? Being paid 211$/hour is not humanitarian work, it’s taking advantage of a biased system that YOU are perpetuating, which is that nursing work is not worth good pay unless a doctor is doing it. Do you have any idea how insulting this is?
Why is Ontario giving their nurses a 4$/hour increase as well as a 250$ bonus per 100hrs worked? Do they actually value their nurses’ health and the life-saving work their doing?
You need to do better Mr. Legault. All of the nurses I speak too are defeated, and disgusted by the treatment were receiving, though not surprised. There are over 70,000 nurses in Quebec, who all have families and friends who are hearing the truth of the disheartening treatment we’re receiving from the government veiled under all the “thank you(s)” and “guardian angels”. There is a lot of talk of strikes and fighting back, the newer generation of nurses is not so compliant.
Thank you for reading this, I hope it inspires some compassion and understanding.
NOT a guardian angel, but an educated health professional deserving of fair pay for fair work