The Fight for Proper Working Conditions
in Health Care
Quebec Nurses Hold Successful "No Mandatory Overtime" Day of Action
Health care workers at Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital in Montreal are
community supporters, with banner reading "Nurses Angry -- Citizens In
Solidarity!" April 8, 2019.
"There is no turning back!"
Some 76,000 nurses, licensed practical nurses,
respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists, members of the
Quebec Interprofessional Health Federation (FIQ) held a successful "No
Mandatory Overtime" day of action on April 8, as its members performed
no mandatory overtime during the day of action. This proves the health
care system can operate without mandatory overtime, noted FIQ President
Nancy Bédard. Moreover, use of mandatory overtime as a regular
practice can be ended if the government and management at health care
facilities take adequate measures on the basis of proposals put forward
by the nurses themselves.
Banner outside hospital in Bas St. Laurent, April 8, 2019.
Early in the morning, the banner "Mandatory Overtime Has
Gone On Long
Enough" was hoisted in front of a large number of health facilities in
several of Quebec's regions, with nurses standing by their union flag
before entering work. The banner was also unfurled on many bridges
overlooking traffic. Citizen actions in support of the day's
event were organized in Montreal, Quebec City and Drummondville in
front of health facilities where participants held banners reading
"Nurses Angry -- Citizens In Solidarity! The Canadian Union of Public
Employees, which has 25,000 members who work in the Quebec health and
social services network and are also experiencing the turmoil of
mandatory overtime, expressed its support for the nurses' day of action.
Banner hangs on overpass in Abitibi-Temiscamingue.
Over the years, the practice of mandatory overtime has
into a system of management by governments and administrations. At
press briefings throughout the day the nurses reiterated their demands,
which if met, could put an end to the practice. A first demand is to
abolish mandatory overtime except in the case of an unforeseen
emergency. This action must become a priority for the government and
health facility administrations, which is not the case at present.
Through the anti-social offensive that successive
imposed in health care for the benefit of private interests, the human
factor represented by hundreds of thousands of health care workers has
been denied and seen as a cost and a burden on the health care system.
Thousands of jobs have been permanently abolished.
The use of mandatory overtime has become a chronic form of management,
regardless of the devastating effects on staff and patients. The
priority must change, nurses say, so that the working conditions
change, which also change their living conditions. For this to take
place, a massive and targeted reinvestment in the health system is
specific portion of which must be devoted to the working conditions of
health care professionals.
Nurses are calling for an upgrade of positions. Overtime
work exist side by side. It is unacceptable, they say, that a shortage
of manpower is being invoked to justify mandatory overtime when so many
nurses are currently working only about two days a week.
Upgrading jobs to full-time
or four-day a week positions is an
immediate measure that would significantly reduce mandatory overtime.
Nurses are calling for job upgrades on a stable basis, not by rotation
where they would be constantly moved from one institution to another,
possibly even over long distances. That would be unacceptable for
nurses and patients, and would not attract young people to join the
ranks of nurses. According to the FIQ, the Lanaudière region
upgraded all of its nursing positions to four days a week to avoid the
use of mandatory overtime during the week and the results are already
Nurses are also demanding safe nurse-to-patient ratios,
which would stabilize the situation and reduce reliance on mandatory
On the April 8 day of action, nurses broke the code of
oppressing them by waging this courageous action and have strongly
impressed public opinion. They have forcefully reiterated and put into
practice what is supposed to be official policy that mandatory overtime
is an exceptional emergency measure, which ultimately must be left up
to the nurse, the only person who can judge whether he or she is able
that service or not. Indeed, the nurses' Code of Ethics includes the
obligation to take reasonable action to ensure the continuity of care
and treatment as well as the duty to refrain from practicing their
profession when in a state that is liable to impair the quality of care
All of this was brought to the public's attention
through the day of
action. Nurses are determined that there is no turning back from their
Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital, Montreal
Montreal, West Island
Montreal Cardiology Institute
Mauricie and Central Quebec Region
Bas St. Laurent
This article was published in
Number 13 - April 11, 2019
The Fight for Proper Working Conditions
in Health Care: Quebec Nurses Hold Successful "No Mandatory Overtime" Day of Action