Caregiver-patient ratios at the heart of the FIQ's demands
Special contribution March 18, 2023
Photo: Valérian Mazataud Le Devoir The FIQ's demands relate to remuneration , work-life balance and workload, including caregiver-patient ratios.
This text is part of the special Syndicalism section
The cycle of negotiations for the renewal of collective agreements in the public sector has begun. The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), which represents nurses, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists and perfusionists, has already filed its demands with the government.
There are sixty of them, formulated following a survey of members. “This shows that our demands reflect the interests of our base,” says Julie Bouchard, president of the FIQ. These demands relate to three major issues, namely remuneration, work-life balance and workload, in particular the caregiver-patient ratio. »
On this last subject, the FIQ goes further than a simple union demand since it would like the caregiver-patient ratios to be regulated by law. “There is a huge difference between a ratio determined by a collective agreement and one set by law. With a law, the establishments are obliged to apply the ratio while with the collective agreement, there is always a way to play with it and to derogate from it a little, she explains. In addition, a law would have the advantage of ensuring a minimum care team in all establishments. Moreover, this is the case for early childhood educators whose educator-child ratio is already set by law. »
Minister LeBel's forums
Last December, the President of the Treasury Board, Sonia LeBel, proposed to add to the negotiation process the formula of forums on three subjects: care, the classroom and mental health. Proposal rejected en bloc by all the unions concerned.
“From the start, the idea of forums seemed to us like a waste of time because it was ineffective,” says Ms. Bouchard. First, there are so many people sitting around the same table in a forum that it is impossible to come to a consensus. Then, the issues are different depending on the types of profession and the unions that represent them. For example, compulsory overtime affects FIQ members more. Moreover, these forums are added to the negotiation tables already planned, which only stretches the negotiations unnecessarily. »
The state of negotiations
Negotiations between the FIQ and the employer party are currently in good shape. “The FIQ proposed to the management party 28 dates between January 27 and March 6, when we were available to sit down at the negotiation table, but the management party only retained four of them, points out Ms. Bouchard, this which testifies to the government's reluctance to settle and sign a new agreement. »
When it comes to pay, the two sides are at opposite poles. The government is offering a 9% increase spread over five years and the FIQ is asking for an increase of 4% per year over three years, along with a 6% increase based on the rate of inflation. “Not only does the employer's offer not represent the magnitude of the task assumed by the nursing staff, but it does not even take inflation into account,” she laments.
A necessary push
According to Julie Bouchard, there is danger in the house. “We are in the midst of a shortage of healthcare personnel, especially nurses and nursing assistants,” she continues. Those who are in the network leave to go to work in the private sector and young people hesitate to choose these professions. The heavy workload, including the nurse-patient ratio, and the compulsory overtime are the two major irritants. The inaction of the government to find a solution to these two problems contributes to the shortage of healthcare personnel.
But isn't the current shortage the very reason for the government's wait-and-see attitude? “What the government claims, says Ms. Bouchard, is that it cannot fix these problems until the shortage is resolved. But it is the opposite. These issues are exactly what makes attracting and retaining staff so difficult. It is time for the government to give a serious boost and ensure that the best job in the world, that of caring, is also the most attractive.
This special content was produced by the Devoir Special Publications team, reporting to Marketing. The editorial staff of Devoir did not take part.