- Current issues
Updated on February 9, 2022
Since January 16, the government has introduced measures to recognize the work of technicians and professionals in the health and social services system, who have been grappling with major work overload. These enhanced measures echo the repeated demands made by the APTS and the coalition of healthcare unions to which we belong. To stay posted on the pay incentives, support measures and health and safety programs that you’re entitled to during the pandemic, we invite you to check in regularly to this webpage.
1. RISING-SCALE PREMIUM
This lump sum, which may reach $1,000 for each 4-week period, is given to:
- employees whose job title is listed below (in accordance with ministerial orders 2022-003 and 2022-008),
- who work full-time (as determined by the List of job titles),
- in a facility listed below (as designated by the health and social services minister).
In the designated CHSLDs, the lump sum is always granted for all job titles.
Application of the rising-scale premium
Lump sum (rising-scale premium)
This lump sum is granted as follows:
- $100 for each week of actual full-time work,
- $200 for a first block of two weeks of actual full-time work,
- $400 for a second block of 2 weeks of actual full-time work.
This premium applies to employees who have a full-time or part-time position and to those who don’t have a position, as long as they are working full-time. It also applies to employees working remotely. To determine whether an employee has worked full-time and is therefore eligible to receive the lump sum, the following types of leave are viewed as hours worked:
- annual vacation leave,
- statutory holiday,
- floating days off,
- internal union leave,
- time off for a medical visit related to pregnancy,
- conversion of evening or night premiums into time off,
- isolation at the request of the employer or public health authorities.
However, the amount paid will be based on hours actually worked.
All other types of paid or unpaid leave are not viewed as hours worked when determining employees’ eligibility to receive the lump sum. For example, compensatory time off for overtime is not included as hours worked, so it is preferable to be paid for overtime. Sick leave, leave for family responsibilities, and gradual return to work are not viewed as hours worked when determining if an employee is eligible to receive the lump sum. In our view, withholding the lump sum when these types of leave are involved is a form of discrimination. If you find yourself in this situation, contact your local executive or your union counsellor.
Examples of how this applies for a 4-week period
If you took eligible time off in Week 1, you will be entitled to:
- $80 for the first week (4 days actually worked out of 5)
- $100 for the second week
- $180 for the first 2-week block (9 days actually worked out of 10)
- $100 for the third week
- $100 for the fourth week
- $400 for the second 2-week block
for a total of $960.
Duration of ministerial orders 2022-003 and 2022-008
Officially, Ministerial order 2022-003 applies for 4 weeks, as of January 16, 2022. Ministerial order 2022-008 took effect on January 23, 2022. The government has nonetheless announced its intention to apply the measures contained in these ministerial orders for 12 weeks.
The APTS is continuing to present its arguments to the government and demand that the incentives contained in ministerial orders 2020-035 and 2022-003 be applied to a maximum number of job titles and designated settings, for as long as possible.
Class 4 job titles eligible for the rising-scale premium
Here are the job titles currently eligible for the rising-scale premium, under Ministerial order 2022-003. This measure applies as of January 23, 2022, for a period of 12 weeks. We are striving to get other job titles included.
- Assistant chief (laboratory)
- Assistant chief medical electrophysiology technologist
- Assistant chief physiotherapist / Assistant head physiotherapist
- Assistant chief radiology technologist
- Assistant head dietetics technician
- Audiologist / Speech-language pathologist
- Biomedical engineer
- Cardiorespiratory physiology therapist
- Case reviewer
- Clinical activities specialist
- Clinical cytogenetics technician
- Clinical instructor (laboratory)
- Clinical instructor (radiology)
- Clinical lecturer (physiotherapy)
- Clinical sexologist
- Clinical specialist in laboratory medicine
- Community recreation leadership technician
- Community worker
- Dental hygienist
- Dietitian / Nutritionist
- Dietetics technician
- Graduate medical laboratory technician
- Guidance counsellor
- Head of module
- Human relations officer
- Living or rehabilitation unit supervisor
- Medical electrophysiology technical co-ordinator
- Medical electrophysiology technologist
- Medical imaging technologist (diagnostic radiology)
- Medical imaging technologist (nuclear medicine)
- Medical technologist
- Medical technology extern
- Occupational therapist
- Physiotherapy technologist
- Planning, programming and research officer
- Radiology technologist (digital imaging and information system)
- Radiation oncology technologist
- Social aide
- Social worker
- Social work technician
- Special education technician
- Specialist in biological and physical sciences in health
- Specialized independent sonographer
- Specialized medical imaging technologist
- Specialized radiation oncology technologist
- Speech-language pathologist
- Technical co-ordinator (laboratory)
- Technical co-ordinator (radiology)
- Transfusion safety clinical officer
- Transfusion safety technical officer
NOTE: The premium is granted to employees in these job titles who work in the settings listed below.
Facilities designated by the Ministry
To be eligible for the rising-scale premium, you have to be working in one of the following facilities. This measure applies as of January 23, 2022, for a period of 12 weeks.
- all facilities with a hospital mission (i.e., all hospitals offering either general and specialized care, or psychiatric care), including both public facilities and private facilities under agreement
- all clinics in Nunavik
- all facilities with a child and youth protection mission
- all rehabilitation centres for young people with adjustment problems
- all public CHSLDs
- all private CHSLDs under agreement
- all private CHSLDs not under agreement
- all non-traditional sites
- all CLSCs
- all private residences for seniors (RPAs)
- all intermediate resources (RIs) with programs for clients experiencing age-related loss of autonomy
- all religious institutions operating a residential long-term care facility for their members or followers.
NOTE: The rising-scale premium applies to the following facilities as of January 23, 2022, under Ministerial order 2022-008.
- rehabilitation centres for clients with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder (CRDI-TSAs)
- rehabilitation centres for clients with physical disabilities (CRDPs)
- rehabilitation centres for clients with disabilities (CRDs).
Overtime: monetary incentive for overtime work, and reimbursement of meal expenses
These incentives were set by Ministerial order 2022-003, and apply to all job titles and facilities.
Throughout this section, the following types of leave count as hours worked, in addition to your regular work shifts, when calculating the normal work week, hours normally worked, and hours normally associated with your position or assignment:
- annual vacation,
- statutory holidays,
- floating days off,
- internal union leave,
- leave for a pregnancy-related medical visit,
- evening- and night-shift premiums converted into time off,
- isolation at the employer’s request or the request of public health authorities.
Any other types of paid or unpaid leave do not count as part of the normal work week entitling you to be paid double time for overtime. For instance, if you take compensatory time off for overtime, those hours are not included as hours worked, so it’s preferable to be paid for overtime. Sick leave, leave for family responsibilities and gradual return to work do not count as hours worked. We believe that excluding these types of leave is a form of discrimination. If you find yourself excluded in this way, contact your local executive or your union counsellor.
- are paid double if they work a full shift in addition to their normal work week;
- accumulate a half-day of vacation (equal to 50% of their full-time shift), which can be taken after May 1, 2022. It is also possible for full-time employees to be paid straight time as of May 1, 2022. The only option available for retired employees who were rehired, or for employees hired via Je Contribue, is to be paid their accumulated half-days of vacation.
- are paid a lump sum of $100 per week when they have worked at least 30 hours a week but less than the number of hours specified for their job title in the List of job titles. (If they have worked the number of hours specified for their job title, they are entitled to the measures for full-time employees.)
- are paid double for an additional shift worked immediately before or after their regular shift, if they worked a regular shift on an evening, night or weekend shift that same week, in an activity centre operating 24/7, in addition to the hours normally associated with their position or assignment. This double pay applies no more than once a week.
- are paid or reimbursed the actual cost of taking a taxi between the employee’s home and workplace (to work, from work, or both ways, as needed) for every overtime shift worked;
- are provided free parking space from January 16 to April 10, 2022, even for regular work shifts, when parking spaces run by the institution (or the Foundation) are available;
- are offered the option of a free meal, if available, or $15 compensation, when they do a full shift of overtime.
The Omicron variant has driven home the importance of N95 masks for employees working in the health and social services system, given its airborne transmission and high transmissibility.
Efficacy of N95 masks
Experts agree that the N95 mask (or its equivalent) is more effective in protecting against COVID-19 than a procedural mask. The Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST) concluded in a comparative study of the procedural mask and the N95 mask (in French) that:
“[Procedural masks] don’t offer respiratory protection for the person wearing them, as they are not closely fitted to seal off airflow. In contrast, N95 masks can be considered effective in providing personal protection against inhalable particles as well as collective protection by controlling airborne particles at the source, if worn as part of a respiratory protection program.”
Recommendations by the CNESST
In December 2021, the CNESST recognized the need to raise workers’ level of personal protection, and changed its recommendations (in French). It now recommends that employees who work in a red zone or a yellow zone, as well as those who work in a green zone with patients considered to be at moderate risk, must wear an N95 mask or the equivalent.
The joint association for occupational health and safety in the social affairs sector (ASSTSAS) has prepared a set of frequently asked questions (in French) about respiratory protection.
If you still don’t have access to N95 masks, please contact your local APTS team, who can help speed up the process.
Filing a CNESST claim when you contract COVID-19 at work
You have to file a claim with the CNESST when you get infected with COVID-19 in the context of work. Despite the fact that there is widespread community transmission of the Omicron variant, employees who contract COVID-19 through exposure in their workplace are entitled to compensation through the CNESST.
The employer will not file a claim for you. It’s up to you to fill out the CNESST form as soon as possible after you receive a positive test result, even if you are asymptomatic. You should also notify your employer promptly.
If you haven't yet filed your claim, you can do so within 6 months of the date you booked off sick after getting COVID-19.
How to make a claim
Exceptionally, the CNESST can process a claim for a confirmed or probable COVID-19 infection based on your declaration that you have contracted the virus and have received a positive test result.
For claims related to an event that occurred after January 5, 2022
For priority workers who can get a PCR test
For all workers who are unable to get a PCR test
The CNESST will continue to require a PCR test result from a COVID-19 testing platform or written confirmation from the Québec’s health and social services ministry (MSSS), if a medical certificate is unavailable.
The CNESST will analyze whether your COVID-19 claim is admissible based on your declaration in good faith and confirmation by your employer of an outbreak or contact with an infected person in your workplace.
You have to fill out a Workers’ claim (in French: Réclamation du travailleur - RTR), indicating your symptoms. If possible, attach any document that attests to your test result. Your worker’s claim form (RTR) will then be processed based on the usual parameters.
Labour unions have joined forces to denounce employers in the health and social services system who are systematically putting infected employees on disability insurance.
The labour minister reiterated at a meeting on February 4 that the institutions' health office is not authorized to judge whether a person infected with COVID-19 is entitled to make a claim to the CNESST. It is up to the CNESST to decide on the admissibility of the claim. A letter will be sent to the institutions to remind them of their role in these specific cases.
When someone from the health office contacts you, be careful how you answer. All too often, the intention is to brush aside the probable cause of a work-related infection, even when there’s an outbreak in the sector.
Preparing for long COVID
It’s important to make a claim, as “long COVID” can have debilitating effects that are long-lasting. "Between 10 and 15% of people still have symptoms 12 weeks after contracting COVID-19."
Source: Santé Monteregie
Various symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath and cognitive difficulties are associated with long COVID. They may fluctuate over time or from one day to the next, affecting each person differently. Symptoms of long COVID can make it hard for people to perform their daily activities, return to work and maintain their quality of life.
Further details are available in French on the CNESST’s website, in the section Questions et réponses – COVID-19.
Recommendations for pregnant workers
INSPQ recommendations for pregnant or breastfeeding employees are the same, regardless of the employees’ vaccine status. Given the predominance of the Omicron variant, Québec’s public health institute is recommending that employers and pregnant workers comply with the following rules as soon as the pregnancy begins and for as long as it lasts.
An employer can take various steps to minimize contact. These include:
limiting the number of contacts with different people at the same time
adjusting schedules, and reducing and stabilizing work teams.
The employer is also responsible for systematically ensuring that pregnant employees:
do not find themselves in the same room or vehicle as people who are under investigation for COVID-19 or who are suspected or confirmed cases;
do not share common areas with employees who spend time in sectors where there are outbreaks;
do not do any of the following with people who are under investigation for COVID-19 or who are suspected or confirmed cases (this includes people who are isolating at home or in a residential centre): be in contact with them, provide care or treatment, take samples, or carry out medical or paraclinical examinations;
do not perform, handle or analyze COVID-19 tests, unless the samples involved are inactivated;
do not perform any task in a sector or residential facility in which a COVID-19 outbreak has been declared. Only public health authorities are empowered to declare an outbreak or decree that it has ended.
In settings other than those where sick people are provided with accommodation, COVID-19 cases may occur in a pregnant worker’s immediate work environment. In that case, temporary leave should be considered. The rules for granting this leave are to be determined in each region, based on measures taken to manage outbreaks.
Although the APTS and a coalition of labour unions focusing on occupational health and safety in health and social services have frequently requested that pregnant workers be automatically granted protective leave when they are not in a position to work remotely, employers have been standing their ground and following current recommendations, which allow them to keep these employees at work.
A distance of 2 metres from service users and coworkers must be ensured. However, the INSPQ says that very little risk of infection is involved when crossing paths with someone at a distance of less than 2 metres for a very short time – in a hallway or staircase, for instance – when nobody stops and there is no contact. This situation does not give rise to any recommendation for protective reassignment.
In situations where a distance of at least 2 metres cannot be ensured, the employer must provide a high-quality physical barrier such as a plexiglass or other divider. Such barriers can be used in vehicles and during breaks and meals.
If your employer fails to comply with the INSPQ’s minimum recommendations, contact your local executive or your union counsellor.
To find out more
If you have any questions about this premium, please contact your local APTS team.
Thank you for answering our survey..