JUNE 9, 2020 | No. 7

APTS-FIQ alliance demands

At the June 1st General Council meeting, APTS delegates rejected the government’s offer tabled on May 21. No surprise there, as the government’s proposal to the APTS-FIQ alliance is almost identical to the one tabled last December, give or take a few details, which the alliance rejected in January. This latest version was presented by the head of the Treasury Board, Christian Dubé, who is overseeing talks to renew collective agreements in the public and parapublic sectors.

On June 5, it was the APTS-FIQ alliance’s turn to present its counterproposal on the following matters: salary demands, the retirement plan, parental rights and regional disparities. In stark contrast to the government proposal, which made no attempt to address the legitimate demands of 131,000 employees in our health and social services system, the alliance’s proposal shows a genuine desire to negotiate, with consideration given to the unusual circumstances caused by COVID-19 and their impact on Québec’s economic situation.


APTS-FIQ alliance demands

  • a 12.4% salary increase over 3 years, of which 7.4% is a catch-up increase to overcome pay lags
  • a clause protecting employees’ purchasing power to ensure that the increase in salary keeps pace with inflation, should the inflation rate exceed what’s stipulated in the initial proposal.

The government is offering a 5% increase over three years, with a lump-sum amount of $1,000 for employees at the top of the salary scale and another $600 for all employees, prorated to their hours worked. But these lump-sum amounts will have no impact on salary progression.

Our counterproposal is closer to the government offer but has the advantage of incorporating the lump-sum amounts of $1,000 and $600 (proposed by management) in the salary scales, to create a cumulative effect and preserve the pay increase each year.

In addition, by including these lump-sum amounts in the salary scales, we help rectify longstanding wage lags, bringing the remuneration of employees in the health and social services sector closer to that of employees in all other sectors in Québec (the private sector, municipal sector, universities and federal public service), in Québec crown corporations (Hydro-Québec, SAQ, Loto-Québec) and in other Canadian provinces.

The inclusion of the lump-sum amounts will also make it possible to increase the amount eligible as pensionable earnings for the Government and Public Employees Retirement Plan (RREGOP).

Here is a more detailed breakdown of the salary increase demanded (inflation and catch-up increase):

Year 1: 5.75% increase, including the lump-sum amount of $1,000
Year 2: 3.15% increase
Year 3: 3.50% increase, including the lump-sum amount of $600
Total: 12.4% increase over 3 years

Women make up more than 85% of the APTS-FIQ alliance’s membership. Work that involves helping others and providing care and services is considered to be “natural” for women, and is systematically undervalued by the government. For years, APTS and FIQ members’ remuneration has lagged behind that of other public-sector workers in different job titles, and that of Québec workers as a whole. It’s time to duly recognize the value of their work in our economy. Women are also the ones who bear the brunt of austerity measures, while men are the ones who benefit most from major investments in construction, infrastructure projects, or other predominantly male job sectors. This disparity is also emerging with Bill 61, the government’s plan to relaunch the Québec economy after the COVID-19 crisis. Yet women outnumber men on the front lines in the fight against the virus and are the ones who suffer the most negative effects.

Despite the difficult economic context, it is essential that the APTS-FIQ alliance obtain a catch-up increase for its members. The alliance understands that the overall catch-up increase can be spread over several collective agreements, given the serious consequences of COVID-19 for the Québec economy. But it’s even more important in times of crisis to protect the salaries of public employees, with a clause to maintain their purchasing power.

Retirement plan

The government is proposing that a joint inter-union committee be set up to tackle issues involving the retirement plan in the months and years after the collective agreement comes into force, deferring any decisions until after the collective agreement is signed. We all know what kind of uncertainty that means.

The APTS-FIQ alliance is calling for two demands associated with the retirement plan to be negotiated immediately at the bargaining table.

  • Set the actuarial reduction for early retirement at 5% for each year of early retirement as of July 1, 2020, rather than at 6% as stipulated, to reflect the actual cost of an early retirement
  • Lift the obligation for employees covered by the phased retirement program to retire at the end of the agreement, and let them keep their work hours as they were before the start of their phased retirement program.

Parental rights

Here as well, the APTS-FIQ alliance is calling for these demands to be negotiated at the bargaining table to rectify inequities, instead of setting up a joint inter-union committee that will tackle parental rights issues in the months and years after the collective agreement comes into force, as the government is proposing.

  • Increase the number of days of leave from 4 to 8 days for pregnancy-related appointments.
  • Allow employees on maternity leave and parental leave to postpone their vacation to a time of their choosing
  • Allow employees to split up or postpone maternity leave and paternity leave when a child is born, and adoption leave, in relation to other leaves taken.
  • Ensure the same level of compensation for pregnant or breastfeeding employees who are on protective leave as employees on protective leave for employment injuries, based on the principle of fairness and equity.

The alliance agrees to discuss certain measures at the bargaining table that have been proposed by the management side:

  • eliminate the administrative time restriction that affects access to the bank of adoption leave covering both parents, when taking leave for adoption
  • adjust the formula for calculating the maternity leave allowance
  • raise the required number of weeks’ notice before going on maternity leave to three weeks (instead of the current two-weeks’ notice)

The alliance also agrees to discuss the reference period for part-time employees’ benefits, in a committee that will begin working after this round of collective bargaining is over.

Regional disparities

Despite Québec’s serious problems in attracting and retaining personnel in remote regions, the Legault government wants to keep to the status quo on regional disparities, without addressing this matter at the bargaining table.

This position makes no sense at all to the APTS-FIQ alliance. In refusing to tackle these issues, the government is failing Quebeckers and members of Indigenous communities who live far from the major centres. They are nonetheless entitled to the same services as the rest of the population.

The alliance is demanding a response to the proposals tabled last October, which the employer side has been systematically avoiding for months now. The objective of these proposals is to:

  • broaden the scope of the retention premium
  • add localities in certain sectors requiring the remote premium
  • extend access to trips out
  • require the employer to mitigate tax losses linked to any benefits

Demonstration in Abitibi-Témiscamingue

Together, the APTS and FIQ represent 131,000 employees in the health and social services system, 85% of whom are women.