The Government Is Reneging on Its Commitments to
Health Care Professionals
Nathalie Lévesque is the interim
president of the Interprofessional Health Care
Federation of Quebec
The organizations representing nurses are critical
of Ministerial Order
2021-071 issued by the Minister of Health and
Social Services on
October 16, on attraction and retention premiums
for full-time nurses.
Can you tell us more?
It’s not negotiated, it’s an order, your
Minister Dube must cooperate and respect
the collective agreement to
meet the objective of recruiting and
retaining health health care
professionals. That’s the law!
During his press conference about two months ago,
the Minister of
Health and Social Services announced that he was
releasing a budget
containing attraction premiums for personnel in
the network that were
also retention premiums for personnel already
employed there. He
described this as a stop-gap measure pending the
force of the collective agreements signed with the
nursing and cardiorespiratory personnel. That
measure became a
What we are critical about,
amongst other things, with regard to the
management of the health network through
ministerial decree, is its
unilateral application, which often does not
factor in the working
conditions of the members we represent.
this ministerial order, the government is reneging
on its commitments
to health care professionals.
For example, there
are several measures in this order that
contravene what was negotiated in good faith with
the Ministry in our
new collective agreement. This is inconceivable.
How can a stop-gap
measure violate agreements negotiated in good
me give you an example. We have pregnancy leave in
collective agreement. To have access to the
$15,000 premium without
being penalized, you must not take any time off.
So if a young
health care professional who has recently become
pregnant goes to see
her doctor, she will not be eligible for a certain
part of the premium
proportional to the time not worked. This is leave
provided for in the
collective agreement that was negotiated with the
You have a
family emergency and you have to take an
unpaid leave? A single day
pay means you lose your bonus.
unpaid leave or leaves in the contract can
make you lose your bonus.
You must have access to the premium based
on your hours worked.
with the example of the pregnant woman, let's say
she returns from
maternity leave on December 26. She comes back to
help out the network
in the middle of the holiday season. Because the
deadline for signing
the contract for the premium is December 15, she
will not be able to
sign. The same thing happens to a worker who
returns from disability leave after December 15.
We are saying that
offering a year-round eligibility period would be
of interest to those
returning from different types of leave.
single parent families are part of today's reality
becoming more numerous. In this period of the
resurgence of colds, then
of the flu in January, parents are sure to be
times. For example, if a parent has to leave work
because the daycare
has called to say that a child is sick, the worker
will lose a part of
premium on a pro rated basis because they have to
pick up their child at
the daycare and will return to work the next day.
also understand that full time work is being
encouraged. So why,
for example, is a person who is part-time and is
willing to work an
extra shift or two, not considered eligible for a
one-sided. Either you go full time or you get
nothing, if you take time
off, you lose some of the premium.
have asked that we be heard by the Ministry, to
provide them with
potential solutions, based on what our members in
the health network
are telling us, on what their day-to-day
experience is. We want to work
together. There are ways both in the medium and
long term to make
changes together in the network. The day after a
meeting with the
ministry, we were told 'thank you very much, see
time.' It's like talking to deaf ears, it's
is no openness, as promised, that should take
place in a discussion.
They simply shut the door on us.
Now the Minister of
Health is saying that the unions are impeding
the hiring of 3,000 full time nurses because we
are calling on our
members to pay attention to the details that may
You know, there have been 155 ministerial orders
of the pandemic, 105 of which have violated the
working conditions of
health care professionals and all the people who
work in the health
system. It is clear that we will never agree to be
associated with such
a ministerial order. The measures in the order are
unilaterally and have never been negotiated.
sign you become full-time and the employer
can move you and change
your schedule at will!
solution: You are not a robot!
This provision must be
eliminated in order to respect the
collective agreement. You do not
have to give up your rights!
In one of your communiqués, the FIQ says that the
decree reintroduces staff mobility and encourages
the acceptance of
rotating shifts, which must be stopped in order to
stabilize the work
teams. Can you give us an example?
Let's say a nurse has a part-time position on a
medical floor and she is three shifts short of
full-time. To be able to
sign the contract under Order 071 that would make
her eligible for
premiums she has to agree to the additional three
shifts, but on those
three shifts she could be sent to work anywhere.
She could be sent to
Geriatrics one day, to the emergency room another
day and on the third
day to the CLSC [Local Community Service Centre].
This is not optimal
quality care. We want to guarantee quality care to
the population, but
this is not the way to do it.
Under these conditions, what are the FIQ's
priorities with regard to
changing the situation in the health care system?
We must be able to work cohesively with the
ministry, put an end to the management of the
health care system by
ministerial order and implement our collective
agreements in a
sustainable manner. For us, the priority right now
is to implement what
we have negotiated in our collective agreement.
This includes financial
measures, incentive bonuses, a FIQ-bonus, and
negotiated hours of care,
which are the basis for the health care
that we want to implement. This is what will end
mandatory overtime and
close the door to private hiring agencies for
nurses. Our collective
agreement also includes a form of work schedule
the care units, which includes taking into
consideration the opinions
and daily experience of health care professionals.
All of these
measures, once implemented, should help our
members work in an
environment that is safe and respectful of our
We want to remind everybody that we are not in
with the government. We must work together to
optimize the health care
system and be able to provide quality care to the
This article was published in
November 19, 2021 -