Government’s attempted PR operation is a failure

2 mai 2021

Québec City – The meeting to which premier François Legault and Treasury Board president Sonia LeBel invited Andrée Poirier, president of the APTS (Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux), turned out to be nothing but a costly and extensive public relations exercise. Unfortunately, what this clumsy ploy conceals is the fact that the Legault government still wants employees of the health and social services network to be paid a woman’s wage.

“We understood the government’s offers last month – we didn’t need premier Legault to explain them all over again,” said Andrée Poirier after this pointless meeting. “These offers are still unacceptable to our members. There’s no catch-up pay increase that would enable them to reach the level of other Québec workers, and nothing that would make it easier for the health and social services system to attract and retain employees at a time when it’s reeling from the impact of an acute labour shortage. We’re ready to negotiate, but the government will have to be open and willing to consider the solutions we’re putting forward. These solutions are designed to answer the problems experienced by our members on the ground. They’re the ones who are providing Quebecers with care and services.”

The APTS is surprised by the government’s sudden sense of urgency, given that the APTS-FIQ alliance counterproposal on pay and regional disparities has been available to it since April 12, and the counterproposal on working conditions for professionals and technicians – including those working in youth protection and mental health – since April 20.

Minister LeBel is not telling the whole truth

In her public statements, Ms. LeBel has knowingly left out any discussion of what is actually entailed by some of the government’s offers for youth protection workers. The APTS thinks it is important to look at what these offers conceal.

“Sonia LeBel is hiding the fact that while offering youth centre workers a new 3.5% premium, she’s reducing their floating days off. Youth workers need this time off to cope with unspeakably painful situations as well as the violence and abuse they face on a daily basis,” says the APTS president. “LeBel is also neatly concealing the fact that in order to get the new premium, they’ll have to give up other premiums that they’re already entitled to. And that’s not all – further analysis shows that her premium consists of a permanent portion (worth 1.5%) and a temporary portion (worth 2%) that will disappear after two years. With these manipulative and underhanded ploys, Ms. Lebel is further devaluing the work carried out by over 10,000 professionals and technicians providing services to children and families.”

The APTS finds it equally unacceptable that the government, under the guise of a differentiated approach, is abandoning entire sectors to private employment agencies, laboratories and clinics. These private employers are offering far better working conditions than those available to employees in the public system – a system that fails to recognize their expertise. The lack of attraction and retention measures for employees in mental health, or for those serving people with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder, is causing the APTS to fear the worst at a time when waiting lists are getting longer week after week.

“Instead of trying to make their usual tired pitch to Quebecers, Legault and LeBel need to get serious and show greater openness so that we can finally get to a negotiated settlement,” concludes Andrée Poirier.

The APTS

The APTS (Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux) represents a total of 60,000 members who play a key role in ensuring that health and social services institutions run smoothly. Our members provide a wide range of services for the population as a whole, including diagnostic, rehabilitation, nutrition, psychosocial intervention, clinical support, and prevention services.