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Purple square campaign launched to support women opposed to Quebec health-care reforms

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Expect purple squares pinned to the garments of those protesting Quebec's health-care reforms.

Two major union groups - Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux (FSSS-CSN) and Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) - announced on Tuesday that the purple squares are to support women in the union, community and university sectors who "are rising up to denounce the [Health Minister Christian] Dubé reform contained in Bill 15, An Act to make the health and social services system more efficient."

The unions say women's work in public services is devalued.

"Health and social services have always depended on the work of women," said CSN president Caroline Senneville. "They are few in number and will bear the brunt of the Dubé reform. Their working conditions must be improved. It's a question of preserving jobs and the entire public network."

The CSN includes over 330,000 members in eight sectors.

The unions said a "feminist movement" opposed to the bill is growing. Working conditions, autonomy, and overwork are what need improving and the Francois Legault's Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) policies are making things worse, they argue.

As an example, the unions highlight the loss of autonomy and an "attack" on midwifery organizational culture as ways women's work is being devalued.

As part of the reforms, the government will set up a centralized Sante Quebec agency that will oversee all public health-care activities.

The unions say this will move decision-making centres further away from day-to-day operations, and the community organizations will have to fight to retain autonomy and secure funding.

"I'm fed up; workers, users and caregivers are fed up," said FSSS-CSN vice president Judith Huot. "[I am] tired of witnessing democratic backsliding and of seeing that our voice is no longer heard. Tired of the rampant privatization that will create more inequalities between us. Tired of having our work controlled and having to pay the consequences of poor community funding. Enough of our work not being recognized for its true worth! Enough of the erosion of our social safety net! We can't accept what the Dubé reform is proposing."

The unions have been joined by groups such as the Regroupement Les Sages-Femmes du Québec, the Réseau des Tables régionales de groupes de femmes du Québec and the Table des regroupements provinciaux d'organismes communautaires & bénévoles, who will be donning purple squares. 

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