Health Care

"There Are Limits" Nurses Tell Government

Health care workers want real improvements in working conditions, recognition and pay.

On September 6, close to 500 nurses, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists demonstrated in downtown Montreal to mark the stepping up of pressure and to indicate their exasperation with the government. They are campaigning for real progress at the bargaining table.

Commenting on the demonstration, Julie Bouchard, President of the Interprofessional Health Federation of Quebec (FIQ), said: "The government keeps saying it wants flexibility. It seems to want to reduce care professionals to interchangeable pawns with no life of their own. What the government wants is flexibility so its administrators can plug holes in schedules, at the expense of the workers on the floor. To prefer the comfort of managers over the needs of care professionals is to grossly misunderstand the serious and present problems in the network."

On the issue of shortages of personnel, Bouchard said: "Although most people don't know it, there is no shortage of nurses in Quebec, for example. According to the latest data, there have never been so many. The problem is that working conditions and wages in the public sector are so bad that very few want to continue working there. Care professionals are struggling to provide safe, quality care to the population."

"What we're experiencing," concludes the FIQ president, "is not a labour shortage, but an exodus of care professionals, a generalized cut-and-run. The President of the Quebec Treasury Board said there is a lack of clear priorities on our part, so here are a few: Give us the ability to prepare a birthday dinner for our children! Give us the ability to make a dental appointment without putting it off 50 times! Give us the certainty of being able to attend family gatherings planned months in advance! It's the only solution, otherwise the exodus will worsen, with disastrous consequences for care professionals and their patients."

(Quotations translated from original French by WF. Photos: FIQ)

This article was published in
Number 52 - September 22, 2023

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