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MONTREAL -- Protesters outside Premier Francois Legault’s Montreal offices delivered hearts of ice to the front door over what union leaders call cold-hearted contract negotiation tactics for auxiliary health-care workers.
Calling it a double standard for health-care workers in the province, they say some are being deprived of hazard pay while their colleagues qualify for bonuses.
The union said workers like physiotherapists, lab technicians, and social workers work alongside nurses and orderlies, but they're not getting hazard pay for working directly with patients during the pandemic.
“We think that that's unfair," said Veronic Lapalme with APTS. “Our members are not doing so well, there's a lot of people on sick leave, there’s work overload. They don't feel like they're being recognized for their work as well."
There are also concerns about the working conditions youth protection workers face, amid revelations that two of them died by suicide in the last week.
"People are in shock definitely, and the work conditions are not being met as well," Lapalme said.
Under immense stress from the pandemic, youth protection workers say they are often met with hostility by the families they're called in to help, and they say witnessing and protecting children from abuse takes a toll.
“Most of us have that mission tattooed on their heart,” said Patrick Beauregard, a youth protection worker. “But sometimes we're losing our mental health to continue to do it. So we really need help from the government."
During the province’s pandemic update Thursday, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube responded that while the government is sensitive to their situation, they’re trying to find balance in the middle of negotiations.