With a health network that is always overloaded and that often flirts with service breakdowns, the approach of the summer holidays remains a critical period. The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ) demanded a clear watchword from the minister and the latter affirmed that he would “not compromise” on the well-deserved leave of the staff.
The FIQ questioned Minister Christian Dubé on Wednesday morning, asking him to dissipate the concerns of healthcare professionals. The union deplored a “radio silence” from the minister when we have already passed mid-May.
The president of the FIQ, Julie Bouchard, reported that her members are worried about the possibility of seeing their vacations canceled when they have been confirmed since last month. They also fear that they will face an increase in compulsory overtime or that their requests for leave other than vacation will be refused.
According to the FIQ, the health establishments have still not communicated a game plan for the summer season and we fear “catastrophe” if the network chooses improvisation.
“We know very well that there are not enough healthcare professionals to provide all the care in all the sectors and services in the healthcare network,” declared Ms.me Bouchard, adding that this lucidity leads to the discouragement of the troops.
In a written statement sent to The Canadian Press, the minister’s office assures that “it is really a priority that our workers have their vacations. We won’t compromise on that.”
Moreover, the president of the FIQ asked that we put an end to “the coercive measures against the staff” to favor incentive measures. She also asks that we “open the dialogue with the local unions” and finally that we offer “a predictability of schedule” to the care staff.
On the side of Minister Christian Dubé, his cabinet replies that he has always favored collaboration rather than confrontation. With regard to the predictability of schedules, we rely on the CEOs of the establishments who have to juggle the organization of work and the responsibility “to ensure stability of the care offered this summer”.
The Minister nevertheless recognizes that it is by working “in collaboration with the union” that we will be able to “find the best solutions”.
Last summer, no restrictions were imposed on nurses regarding the vacation period despite a high occupancy rate in Quebec hospitals.
In the statement provided by the minister’s office, however, it is recalled that we must be realistic and that labor challenges are daily in the network.
“As we know, the summer period brings additional challenges each year, because we want to continue to offer services, while giving all of our staff a well-deserved vacation,” we emphasize.
Addressing the population, the Minister invites people to use all available options before going to the emergency room this summer. You are asked to first contact 811, the pediatric line or the first-line access counter.
“It takes the pressure off our hospitals, and therefore on our staff,” we insist.
Worse and worse
According to Julie Bouchard, although summer returns every year and the situation is always difficult, the network does not learn and seems caught off guard each time. She adds that the situation is going from bad to worse from year to year.
“The shortage of healthcare professionals is still on the increase. We have even more patients on the floors to treat and the absenteeism rate is very high,” described the president of the FIQ.
According to the echoes heard from its members in the field, the summer schedules have still not been made despite the confirmation of the holidays settled since April. Establishments would also have planned temporary closures of services as well as bed closures.
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