VOLUME 10 No. 10 | NOVEMBER 17, 2020

Update on national bargaining talks

The government has been praising the work of health and social services workers for months, but somehow this recognition doesn’t lead to anything tangible in contract talks. At the central bargaining table, there's a deafening silence around issues such as pension plans, pay, parental rights and regional disparities. To break the silence, APTS and FIQ presidents are encouraging members to mobilize and make their voices heard.

They deserve a break

Last week, the APTS-FIQ alliance invited its members to join a wider movement by taking a 15-minute break at 10 a.m. on November 12, as a tribute to front-line workers who are fighting the pandemic. As we know, the pressure of this struggle often leads workers to shorten their scheduled breaks and meal times.

Of course, APTS members can’t all take their break at the same time at 10 a.m., but APTS delegates meeting that day in General Council took a moment to honour workers who have been infected by COVID-19, and to thank people who have been carrying the full weight of the health and social services system on their shoulders since the beginning of the pandemic.

A disappointing economic update

In response to the economic update released by finance minister Éric Girard, the APTS-FIQ alliance published a letter in the newspapers presenting demands that go beyond COVID premiums. One of these demands is an increase in the salary structure to make up, at least in part, for a gap that has been getting wider for 20 years. While a deficit is anticipated, the government is still in a position to provide fair compensation for personnel whose work has never been more desperately needed. To hear more about our analysis, join our webinar on public finances.

COVID-19: an excuse for outsourcing to the private sector?

The APTS is worried about insidious attempts to privatize health care and social services. The government is using the pandemic as an excuse to assign a greater role to the private sector. Of course, an emergency situation may call for exceptional measures. But we’re afraid the health and social services system will emerge from the crisis even more fragile than it already was. In any case, the APTS won’t be sitting back – we plan to keep on defending the public system! Our concerns were expressed in a letter published in several newspapers.

Call to action: let's demand universal, public pharmacare

Last week, a letter signed by unions and community organizations was sent to Québec MNAs and federal MPs to remind them that Quebecers need a universal, public pharmacare plan. The disparity in what you have to pay depending on whether you are covered by a private insurance plan or by the RAMQ is unacceptable. To increase pressure on the government, we invite you to send this letter to your region’s MNAs and MPs, regardless of their party. Don’t forget to cc us at sociopolitique@aptsq.com.

Webinar on public finances: we've added a session

The Legault government can always think of a reason not to make concessions at the bargaining table. When we analyze the situation, though, it’s clear we can demand better working conditions. Come and learn more at a webinar (in French) for all APTS members:

November 19, 11 a.m. to noon
November 24, 11 a.m. to noon (new date)
November 24, 7 to 8 p.m.
November 25, 12 to 1 p.m.

Register now! For more information, contact Denyse Ponton.

After the death of Joyce Echaquan

The government has promised to invest $15 million to provide obligatory training for all employees in the health and social services system.

This announcement reminds us of something we heard recently from leading Indigenous rights advocate Michèle Audette: “Each of us needs to remember that we all have the power to instigate change.” Read the interview she gave us in October in BlueAPTS.

$100 million for mental health, but no overall strategy

Following the October 31 tragedy in Québec City, Lionel Carmant brought forward his announcement that the government will spend an additional $100 million on mental health between now and March 2022. The APTS deplores the fact that $35 million of this non-recurring funding will be spent on purchasing professional services from the private sector to make up for a persisting lack of resources in the public sector. In a press release, the APTS reminded the minister that he needs to improve working conditions and recognize the contribution of many different professions to the health and social services system. This is a vital step that needs to be taken in order to attract qualified staff and provide for a strategic response to problems of psychological health, which have been made much worse by the pandemic.

Home support: something missing in the plan

On November 15, Minister Christian Dubé announced that an additional $100 million would be invested in home care, including $65 million to CISSS and CIUSSS to “increase the volume and intensity of home support services.” As was the case for the mental health funding announced on November 2, the Legault government is silent about the means it will deploy to attract and retain the professionals and technicians that are actually needed to increase the volume and intensity of services. Unless APTS members obtain better working conditions and a significant catch-up pay increase, these new investments will be completely useless.

Sending your insurance claims to the right place

If you’re receiving compensation from the CNESST (Québec’s Labour Standards, Pay Equity, Occupational Health and Safety Commission), the SAAQ (Société d’assurance automobile du Québec), or IVAC (compensation for victims of crime), did you know that it’s far more advantageous to send them your claims not only for professional care, but also for medication? If you do, you’ll get a more generous refund than the one provided by a group insurance plan. You’ll also be supporting the financial health of your group insurance plan – a highly recommended move. We encourage you to let your pharmacist know you’re making this change.

Payment of unused sick days

As stipulated in clause 30.32 of the national provisions, any days of sick leave that have been accumulated by full-time employees but not used as of November 30 must be paid by the employer, no later than December 15, at the regular salary rate. (Note that in lieu of these days of sick leave, part-time employees and employees without a position receive an amount on each pay that is equivalent to 4.21% of their salary). Contact your local executive or union counsellor if there is a problem or if you have any questions.

The right to a full-time assignment

An arbitrator sided with the APTS in two ways, recognizing that an employee who is gradually returning to work is entitled to obtain an assignment in accordance with stated availability, and finding that the employer’s interpretation in refusing the assignment was discriminatory. The employer’s interpretation constituted a distinction based on disability, since the person returning to work was still disabled. In addition, the arbitrator did not accept the employer’s argument that the employee had to be available for the full schedule of the replacement assignment. The employer failed to convince the arbitrator that the arrangements put forward by the union would cause undue hardship for other employees, managers, people on the availability list, or clients.