Unions in health and social services call for government to engage in dialogue to plan for a better summer
May 09, 2022
Montréal — It looks as if the situation in the health and social services system will be as painful this summer as it was last year, which is why labour organizations are asking the government to work with them on a plan to make it through to the fall. Employee morale is flagging as temporary premiums come to an end on May 14 and payments owed to them continue to be affected by lengthy delays.
The unions are worried that managers may try to maintain services by making abusive use of overtime and mandatory overtime. Hoping to avoid breaks in services, union spokespersons came together at a press briefing to ask health and social services minister Christian Dubé to renounce unilateral measures, once and for all, and move from words to action.
“We find it distressing that the government isn’t showing more concern for the situation on the ground or the exhaustion of employees working to maintain services for Quebecers,” say the APTS, CUPE Québec, FIQ, FP-CSN, FSQ-CSQ, FSSS-CSN, SPGQ and SQEES-FTQ. “What is Minister Dubé’s plan, over the next weeks and months, to cover thousands of work shifts that will be left unfilled? We want to work together on this. We can’t afford to let things go and just hope everything works out all right during the summer. That would really be sticking our heads in the sand.”
More planning, less improvising
Employees’ trust in the government has been deeply shaken by authoritarian and unilateral management practices during the pandemic. Discontent also went up a notch when payments were delayed as a result of mismanagement.
“Ending temporary premiums, and perpetuating delays in making payments, is certainly not helpful. The pandemic is still with us, and summer is always a difficult time because of vacation leave – which is absolutely needed so that our members can get their strength back,” say union spokespersons. “To get through the summer, we need measures that will have a significant impact. The minister of health and social services has a steep hill to climb if he wants to regain our members’ trust. The first step would be to not evade his responsibilities. He can’t just leave employees to face the music by themselves for another summer, or put the full pressure of maintaining services on them. It’s vitally important that we sit down together now to plan for the next weeks and agree on solutions.”