The healthcare professionals of the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec–FIQ and FIQ | Secteur privé made their way to the Treasury Board offices to remind the government that they are ready to settle the negotiation of their collective agreement, but not at any price. Symbolizing to what extent they are prisoners of their working conditions, they chained themselves to one another in front of the three exterior doors housing the offices of the President of the Treasury Board, Sonia Lebel. “Every day that goes by under the current management system is one day too many. Every shift with the current working conditions imposed on the nurses, licensed practical nurses, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists is one shift too many. While there are not even enough healthcare professionals to provide all the care to the patients in Québec, it is urgent that things change in order to retain those still there and hope to attract new ones. The government must invest extensively in improving their working conditions and they must do so now so that managers can get to work quickly to provide the impetus to get this much-needed health network back on its feet”, said Nancy Bédard, President of the FIQ.
Make full time attractive
Three weeks have elapsed since the president of the Treasury Board extended the olive branch and if there was progress on the healthcare professional-to-patient ratios, especially in CHSLDs, and on the number of full-time positions, there is an essential element missing: incentives for the healthcare professionals to be interested in holding a full-time position. “This government has obviously not understood the reasons why healthcare professionals choose, in large numbers, to work part time. How to attract the next generation and have more healthcare professionals who want to hold a full-time position? First, guarantee them a position on a stable and complete work team, on both the shift and centre of activities, with an adequate ratio of patients, that they will know their schedule in advance, have time off and higher income, and obviously, that they will not be prisoners of MOT. Ms. Lebel has to give a clear mandate to her negotiators to resolve thus issue now”, continued Jérôme Rousseau, Vice-President and joint officer for the negotiations.
Time is running out
Remember that the work overload, healthcare professional-to-patient ratios, especially in CHSLDs, and making full-time positions attractive are at the heart of the healthcare professionals’ demands. “These three major issues are intimately related to each other and must be considered as inseparable if the government wants to see things improve quickly in the health network. Healthcare professionals have declared their distress and difficulties in caring for their patients on all platforms. What they experience on a daily basis is unsustainable and time is running out. We have been explaining our solutions at the bargaining table for months now. We have walked around the garden and the discussions went around in circles, enough! The government has to move and quickly” added Roberto Bomba, Treasurer and joint officer for the negotiations.
For the Federation, the government must understand that nurses, licensed practical nurses, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists are determined to see their daily lives change. “Every day, they shorten their meal period, just don’t eat and sacrifice their breaks because they have too many patients. Every week, managers repeatedly refuse or cancel requests for time off. Every year, they do not have access to numerous statutory holidays. By chaining themselves to the doors of the Treasury Board offices, they want to illustrate how captive they are to inhumane working conditions. What the Treasury Board employees will experience today is nothing compared to what healthcare professionals experience in the health network. And with forced mandatory overtime (MOT), they are confronted with this situation every day, not knowing when they can leave work. They are determined, more than ever, to obtain justice after so many years of contempt and lack of consideration for them from the various governments and managers. That is the message that Ms. Lebel and her government needs to understand. “Not in months, but now!” concluded Ms. Bédard.