The leaders of union organizations representing nursing care and cardiopulmonary personnel deplore the lack of cooperation in achieving solutions together that could improve working conditions and respond to the major staff shortage crisis affecting nursing care and cardiopulmonary personnel.

Following intensive meetings aimed at bringing health care workers back into the system and establishing the culture change that the members have been clamoring for, ministerial representatives only listened to some of the union proposals and didn’t bother to respond.

The leaders wanted this working committee to review lasting solutions that value and recognize all of the work that health care personnel do on a daily basis. They proposed solutions free of measures that are coercive, disqualifying and unfair to members. However, the efforts in recent days were truncated and put a damper on our willingness to come up with such solutions.

From the start of the pandemic, the Ministry of Health and Social Services systematically sought to shut unions out of the discussions. It favoured coercion, division and threats, rather than pursuing a legitimate path of collaboration to achieve its objectives.

“We’re under the impression that we’re part of the government’s nice and tidy public relations strategy, but once these meetings wrap up, we refuse to legitimize their actions.  Once again, we will learn at a press conference which possible solutions were retained by the minister and which ones he rejected. However, the unions believe that these solutions are to be considered from an overall perspective and not in piecemeal fashion,” denounced the FSQ-CSQ, the FIQ, the FSSS-CSN, the SQEES-FTQ and CUPE.

It has been largely shown that governing with ministerial decrees (155 since the health emergency declaration, 105 of which deal with working conditions) amounts to using the stick on health care workers, which does not produce the anticipated results. Quite the opposite is true.

For example:

  • Ministerial decree 2020-007 exacerbated the distress and exhaustion of health care workers and hastened their departure to the private sector.
  • The restrictive and coercive measures in decree 2021-071 on attraction and retention premiums are a massive impediment to recruiting at a time when the network is struggling to provide essential care and services to the public and contending with increasing service interruptions. Several measures are totally at odds with the new labour contract. Had there been collaboration when these measures were implemented, the chilly reception they received in the field could have been avoided.

The health care emergency was misused to gain political capital

Union leaders believe that the health care emergency can no longer be used as an excuse to justify the government continually resorting to unfair and discriminatory measures and disregarding the conditions contained in labour contracts, which were negotiated in good faith.

“Unions are the only legitimate bargaining agents to speak on behalf of health care workers. The government must act accordingly and discuss matters with us to reach an agreement whenever the working conditions of our members are at issue. It cannot unilaterally impose its will and call on us only when its authoritarian initiatives fail,” explained the union leaders.

“The Ministry of Health is scuttling its own measures to attract and retain staff. Our members are fed up with the lack of respect and recognition. Abuse of power and division never lead to success. It’s time the minister realized it,” said the union leaders.