Angered over bonuses for nurses, Quebec health-care technicians get meeting with Treasury Board president
MONTREAL -- The union representing health-care professionals and tecnicians in Quebec, which was angered after the announcement of bonuses to solve a nursing shortage, will meet with the Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel.
It hopes to be able to restart the negotiation of its collective agreement or obtain "better recognition" for its members, in a form that remains to be discussed.
They are experiencing a shortage of workers and mandatory overtime in many cases, said Robert Comeau, interim president of the Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux (APTS) in an interview Tuesday.
The meeting with the minister will take place on Thursday.
"These people are in the same situation as nurses. How do we solve this? The solutions as such, I wouldn't say it has to be exactly the same. But we have to look at it together. We need to see it, and then we'll tailor it to the situation. But already, having this recognition from the government would be an important step. After that, we will look at solutions together," said Comeau.
On Tuesday in the weekly news conference, Minister of Health and Social Services Christian Dubé saod that he heard the grievances of other professionals and technicians in the hospitals.
"Every profession is important," he said, adding, "Right now, our focus is on nurses."
Comeau specified that the labour shortage affects his members in medical imaging, in medical laboratories and in youth centers, particularly for psychologists.
The APTS represents 60,000 technicians and professionals in health and social services institutions.
After the announcement of bonuses to bring back 4,300 nurses to the public sector last week, the APTS was so furious that it halted the consultation process with its members.
The consultation was on Quebec's latest offer to renew its collective agreement, received in June. It was not a tentative agreement, however, as the APTS felt it was incomplete.
The possibility that $1 billion would be spent on premiums for nurses irritated the APTS, since it had been told by Quebec in June that there was no more financial leeway and that the government had already reached an agreement with the other union organizations.
APTS members "work in the same exam rooms" as nurses, Comeau said, for example, in medical imaging and analyzing blood samples.
Thursday's meeting with Minister LeBel will be "decisive" for the future, Comeau said, adding that he would also like Premier François Legault to join the meeting.
The members of the APTS have already given themselves a mandate of 10 days of strike to exercise at the appropriate time. They have already walked off the job on June 7 and 8, as well as June 21 and 22. That leaves six strike days in the bank.
Comeau does not rule out the possibility of strike action again, but he is waiting to see how the meeting with Minister LeBel goes. Then, it will be up to an APTS body to take stock and determine the next step.
-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 28, 2021.