VOLUME 1 No. 1 | OCTOBER 15, 2021


The APTS (Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux) welcomed Wednesday’s decision by health and social services minister Christian Dubé to wait until November 15 to implement the ministerial order requiring mandatory vaccination for health and social services employees. The minister has accepted the case made by the APTS at the parliamentary commission on August 28. As we argued at the time, suspending thousands of employees would lead to breaks in services and add to the work overload of those who would have to make up for their colleagues’ forced absence.

I want to say here that the APTS strongly encourages its members to get the vaccine. Vaccination is the tool that will allow us to control the spread of COVID-19 and restore some degree of normalcy to the health and social services system.

It’s also worth pointing out that in terms of vaccination, a great many of you have answered the call. Among the four classes of personnel employed in the health and social services system, professionals and technicians show the highest rates of adequate vaccine protection. As of September 30, almost 94% of you had received two doses of the vaccine, and over 96% had been given at least one dose. We can’t stop here, though – the Legault government has delayed application of the ministerial order, but vaccination is still mandatory. The APTS still intends to challenge that order by filing a claim before the Superior Court. We are well aware that this will be a very long process.

Minister Dubé also announced other measures to put pressure on unvaccinated people to get the vaccine before November 15. COVID-19 tests will still be required three times a week, and the minister has withdrawn the 4% and 8% COVID premiums along with the rising scale COVID premium, which can reach up to $1000 per month.

Will these measures be enough to get approximately 3,000 APTS members who are not yet vaccinated to change their minds?

There are many reasons for refusing to be vaccinated. These reasons may be ideological, physiological or psychological, and they depend on each individual’s situation. Some people may be afraid of jeopardizing a pregnancy or a fertility treatment. Others have a deep-rooted fear of injections, or they remember experiencing strong reactions to vaccines in the past.

As a consequence, some of our members are still not vaccinated and do not meet the exemption criteria established by the government. The possibility of being suspended without pay has merely been postponed to November 15, causing them great distress and anxiety.

Can government measures overcome their resistance and fear? We’ll find out over the next few weeks. To encourage them to get vaccinated, one thing the government could do would be to set up vaccination clinics in workplaces.

Meanwhile, the sword of Damocles is still hanging above your heads. If the vaccination rate doesn’t increase significantly between now and November 15, suspension without pay will have an impact on everyone who is at work that day. For some of you, the increased pressure will be unbearable. Everything we feared would happen in October – cuts in regular services, transfers to other activity centres, breaks in services – will happen in November. The APTS is going to keep on telling the government one thing, over and over: you’ve reached your limit, you can’t shoulder anything more.


The APTS strongly encourages vaccination, but we’ve always been opposed to making it obligatory. After appearing before the parliamentary commission, we’ve continued to argue for education and awareness-raising rather than coercion and ostracism.

Minister Dubé has acknowledged that his strategy is a failure. He’s finally understood that Quebecers will be the ones who’ll pay for it. The system can’t lose 5% of its employees without collapsing – a fact that tells us how fragile it is.

The government needs to work with union organizations, including the APTS, to avoid a replay of the drama experienced over the past few days. You’re the ones on the ground – you understand the impact of the measures the government wants to apply. The MSSS and senior managers of health and social services institutions have to be more transparent, sharing specific data about the number of vaccinated people. They must also publish contingency plans as soon as possible.

With its last-minute decision to postpone implementation of the ministerial order, the government has shown that it’s improvising in this area. And although the worst has been avoided, that decision has once again disrupted the organization of work teams and schedules – an added stress that you definitely didn’t need.

Minister Dubé has reached out to unvaccinated workers; today, I’m reaching out to him on behalf of the APTS. We hope he’ll finally be willing to work with us so that together, we can find solutions to the major crisis currently affecting our health and social services system.

Interim president