The Canadian Union of Public Employees has noted that the staff shortages have continued into the summer in the health and social services network in Quebec. The situation is serious and even critical in all institutions, in every region and in many job categories. The employees are paying the price as are members of the public.

According to CUPE, the $75 premium paid to nursing staff and orderlies accepting additional weekend shifts, though an interesting measure, falls well short of the mark. This premium, which the employer announced last July 10, will not apply to other job categories plagued by acute shortages such as educators, rehabilitation assistants, administrative officers in emergencies and X-ray technicians.

“The staff shortages have been going on for years, and it will take a herculean effort to eliminate them. There’s no getting around the fact that substantial improvements will have to be made to wages and working conditions. Action must be taken right away. We invite the government to discuss the scope of this premium immediately,” declared Luc Beauregard, Vice-President of the Conseil provincial des affaires sociales.

For example, the Institut national de psychiatrie légale Philippe-Pinel has been grappling with staff shortages typical of the entire health and social services system. From July 17 to August 31, 2019, 490 response officer shifts will not be covered. The corresponding figure for sociotherapists and nursing positions will be 410 and 167 respectively.

“The numerous consequences of staff shortages at the Pinel Institute should be of concern the public. The loss of expertise and the lack of experience result in a higher risk of violent incidents both within and outside the walls of the Institute,” said Marie-Ève Desormeaux, President of the Syndicat des employés de l’Institut Philippe-Pinel de Montréal.