Quebec nurses pan government's bonus offer, say real issue is mandatory overtime
MONTREAL -- A Quebec nurse says her mother was more excited than she was after Premier François Legault announced full-time nurses would receive a $15,000 bonus to keep them from quitting the public system.
Sandra Gagnon says the bonus -- while appreciated -- makes her wonder how much she is worth, saying she won't have the energy -- or health -- to spend it.
Last week, Legault unveiled what he called a "mini revolution" in the health system, announcing $1 billion towards convincing nurses to stay in a network that is missing more than 4,000 of them.
Full-time nurses in the public system would receive one-time bonuses of $15,000, as would part-time nurses who switch to full-time work.
Nurses who have quit the public health care network and return full time will receive $12,000 and full-time nurses in five regions hit particularly hard by shortages will get $18,000.
Many nurses and other health care workers were quick to slam the plan on social media, saying the money is welcome, but it doesn't solve the issue of working conditions, particularly the dreaded mandatory overtime that public sector nurses are subjected to.
Quebec's plan proposes to reduce mandatory overtime, but not eliminate it.
Meanwhile, while nurses are getting more money, other health care workers say they feel left out.
Shortly after learning of Legault's offer to nurses, a major union representing health care workers such as medical technicians said it halted the voting process on the government's latest contract offer.
Union interim president Robert Comeau says the premier's announcement angered his members, because they were allegedly told by the government in June there was no money left for the public sector.
Comeau says the members he represents also work in sectors facing labour shortages, "in the same rooms" as nurses receiving up to $18,000 in bonuses.
-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Sept. 29, 2021.