Contract talks | Agreement in principle is ratified by 55.3% of APTS members
December 21, 2021
Longueuil – Members of the APTS (Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux) have endorsed an agreement in principle reached with the Québec government in November by a vote of 55.3%. This decision puts an end to over two years of contract talks that were held to renew the collective agreement of some 60,000 professionals and technicians employed by the health and social services system.
“This was a long and difficult bargaining process, but we’re coming out of it with our heads held high,” said union president Robert Comeau as APTS special general assemblies, which had started December 13, came to a close on December 21. “We fought to the end to get the best possible collective agreement for our members. The gains we’ve achieved are significant for a number of sectors, and the new premiums will apply as soon as final versions of the documents are signed with Treasury Board president Sonia LeBel. Now it’s time to start thinking about the next round of contract talks – they’ll be starting in October 2022.”
The agreement in principle is not totally satisfactory, but the APTS did achieve many gains for professionals and technicians. Floating days off are now a possibility for youth workers; the psychiatry premium will be extended to new activity centres; full-time psychologists will receive an enhanced premium; trainee supervision will be financially recognized; and a sum of money will be given to employees in labs, medical imaging, and medical electrophysiology as a symbolic acknowledgement of their work throughout the pandemic. The APTS is emerging from the contract talks with greater strength.
“I want to thank all of the people who contributed to the contract talks, and especially our members, who mobilized on the ground as never before,” says Comeau. “It took courage for us to resume talks at a time when the government seemed closed to any form of discussion. Coming out of the bargaining process, we’re exhausted, but we won. Our 60,000 members deserve the credit for this.”
The 55.3% outcome does not come as a surprise to the APTS, which was up against the Legault government’s determination to favour only a few job titles even though the difficulty of attracting and retaining personnel – a difficulty leading to unsustainable levels of work overload for all professional and technical employees – is present throughout the health and social services system. The APTS believes that this outcome is the reflection of a harsh judgement on the Legault government, which deliberately chose to ignore professional and technical employees. APTS members voiced their anger at the government’s stance in every assembly.
“Throughout the contract talks, the Legault government never once took off its blinders. It was determined to ignore all the other problems affecting the system,” concludes the APTS president. “Unfortunately, waiting lists are now longer than they’ve ever been in all sectors. If the government actually wants to adopt measures that will help us work together to restore a public system providing all Quebecers with accessible health care and social services, it has to work with the APTS – there just isn’t any other way. Which means it has to get rid of an outdated anti-union stance that makes any kind of progress impossible. We’ve always been willing to look for solutions that will help attract and retain employees, reduce work overload, and ensure our members’ health and safety. And we’re going to keep this attitude in all of our future exchanges with the government.”
The APTS (Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux) represents a total of 60,000 members who play a key role in ensuring that health and social services institutions run smoothly. Our members provide a wide range of services for the population as a whole, including diagnostic, rehabilitation, nutrition, psychosocial intervention, clinical support, and prevention services.