Mental health: Quebec pulls out the checkbook to hire psychologists in the private sector

Mental health: Quebec pulls out the checkbook to hire psychologists in the private sector

Quebec offers double the salary of its psychologists to their colleagues in the private sector to help during the crisis reduce public waiting lists. A situation that makes several stakeholders fear an exodus of State personnel.

This is what we learn in a document obtained by the QMI Agency on the terms of a program put in place by the Legault government in early November.

This program is part of a series of measures announced by the Minister for Health and Social Services, Lionel Carmant, the day after the massacre in Old Quebec on Halloween night.

Of the $ 100 million announced last November 2 to help improve mental health services, a non-recurring $ 25 million envelope has been set aside to urgently hire private psychologists to reduce waiting lists for the public.

However, according to the details provided by the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS), private psychologists who wish to participate in this program can charge the state up to $ 100 per hour. This is more than double the maximum salary such a professional can earn while working in the public sector ($ 49.82 / hr) and four times that of a first-line psychologist ($ 26.43 / hr).

More autonomy too

Only those who work exclusively in the private sector can take advantage of it, which therefore disqualifies psychologists who work part-time for the government.

In addition, psychologists in the private sector who agree to give a helping hand to the state at great expense have more professional autonomy than their colleagues who work in the public sector, we also learn.

“The choice of theoretical orientation is up to the professional who offers psychotherapy services. The choice is made according to the specialty and the professional judgment of the psychotherapist, ”the MSSS rightly specifies in its letter.

For the spokesperson for the Coalition of Psychologists of the Public Network of Quebec (CAPP), Béatrice Filion, the terms of this program are downright “insulting” for government employees, especially since it was put in place during the renegotiation of their collective agreement.

“The choice they make is to go to the private sector, but they could have given a bonus to all the psychologists in the network and said ‘we are going to pay them and attract the psychologists from the private sector to come’”, she said.

Even taking into account the costs inherent in private practice and the social benefits enjoyed by state employees, the salary difference between the two sectors is 27.3% in favor of the private sector, she said. asserted.

Last Monday, 904 members of this grouping also signed an open letter calling for more investment from the government to counter the shortage of psychologists in the public sector and the exodus of these professionals to the private sector. According to data from the CAPP, up to 900 psychologists could be missing in the public network within two years, or a third of the workforce.

“Slap in the face”

While Quebec is currently conducting consultations on the effects of the pandemic on the mental health of Quebecers, the announcement of these rates for the private sector is a “slap in the face” for psychologists in the public network, judges the co- Quebec solidaire spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau Dubois.

“Because there is a mental health crisis, we call on the private sector for reinforcement, but we will give better salaries and more professional autonomy to reinforcements than to regular troops,” he lamented.

According to him, the government is “indirectly demonstrating that to attract psychologists to the public, we must offer better salaries.”

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