Shortage of psychologists in the public sector - Unions protest lack of government action
December 11, 2022
Montréal – On November 24, a coalition of eight unions called for an emergency meeting with ministers Sonia LeBel, Christian Dubé, Bernard Drainville, Pascale Déry and Lionel Carmant to discuss the urgent measures needed to overcome obstacles to attracting and retaining psychologists and to correct serious and persistent wage discrimination in the profession. Seventeen days have elapsed, and despite repeated reminders, the government has yet to respond to the demand. The unions have sharply criticized the government for its silence and inaction despite the continuing increase in mental health care needs since the start of the pandemic.
“Lionel Carmant, the minister responsible for social services, himself stated just this past Friday that the waiting lists for access to mental health care are still ‘jammed up’ at more than 20,000 people,” said the spokespersons for the APTS, FP-CSN, FPPC-CSQ, FPPE-CSQ, FSSS-CSN, CPAS-CUPE Québec, SPPLRN-CUPE Québec and SPGQ, speaking in unison. “In Carmant’s view, the current shortage of psychologists in the public system is unprecedented, particularly when it comes to young and vulnerable people. Given the gravity of the situation and its crucial importance to the health of Quebecers, it is completely unacceptable that the government has failed to give it prompt and serious attention. In previous communications with the government, we outlined measures that should be taken to resolve this crisis and bring about the essential salary adjustments.”
An initial meeting was held in September between the unions representing psychologists in the public health and social service sector, the CPNSSS (the management bargaining committee in health and social services), the health and social service ministry (MSSS) and the Treasury Board Secretariat. Since then, health and social service unions have been joined by unions representing the school and college sectors, which are also affected by the shortage of psychologists, with consequences for the health and success of students. Unions have also continued to remind the government of the pressing need to correct the pay inequity which exists among psychologists – a CAQ election promise that Carmant repeated this past Friday.
“The ball is now in the government's court,” concluded the spokespersons. “We are ready and willing to meet with the relevant ministers right away about taking the necessary steps to improve psychologists’ working conditions and restore the mental health services that the public has every right to expect."