Psychologists working in the Quebec’s public health and social services system were left disappointed recently. To address a lack of personnel and services, the Minister Delegate of Health and Social Services, Lionel Carmant, released a non-recurrent budget for $25 million in November to send cases to private sector psychologists. Authorized hourly rates are as high as $100 per hour.

Meanwhile, public sector psychologists have been without a collective agreement since last March 31, and some employer demands could reduce their compensation. At the bargaining table, CUPE is currently struggling to maintain the premiums associated with their job title. In addition, the government is hoping to abolish full recognition of the psychologists’ education when they are hired, which would represent more than $100,000 in lost salary over their career.

“This is what happens when the government devalues its professionals over the course of several years. They put themselves in a bind and urgently turn to the private sector, and the devaluation process starts all over again. All this does is prompt resignations and an exodus to the private sector. In any event, that is no way of expressing thanks to our members who have been battling the wave of psychological distress that has been sweeping through Quebec since last March,” said Frédéric Brisson, President of the Conseil provincial des affaires sociales (CPAS-CUPE).

“To top it all off, the public sector negotiations are being dragged out, and the government is sticking with its demands that would reduce compensation, which is already not competitive. Waiting lists of those wishing to see public sector psychologists are a mile long. Reducing access to this service further is certainly a concern if the government continues devaluing and draining the public system,” deplored Frédéric Brisson.