In addition to its new salary offers, the government presented new sectoral offers to APTS representatives at the bargaining table. Here again, the government is not giving itself the means to attract and retain personnel in the health and social services system. There are slight improvements, but these offers are still clearly insufficient to eliminate the work overload experienced on a daily basis by professionals and technicians.
When she presented these offers, Minister LeBel claimed that she had the leeway to solve the problems of personnel attraction and retention in youth centres. Is that the real story?
In its March 31 offer, here’s what the government is providing for APTS members employed by this mission:
- a recurrent premium equivalent to 1.5% of their hourly wage,
- a non-recurrent premium equivalent to 2% of their hourly wage that will end on March 30, 2023, or earlier if the government is able to fill the 500 new positions it wants to create,
- the addition of the equivalent of 500 full-time positions,
- three local pilot projects on co-intervention in the psychosocial sector, pivot youth workers, and communities of practice.
In return, the employer wants to eliminate the premium for closed custody, intensive supervision and evaluation of incident reports set out in Appendix 8 of the collective agreement, meaning that the lump sum of $24.04 per week would be removed along with 5 days of leave per year. The government also says that a person benefiting from the proposed new premiums – the recurrent 1.5% premium and the non-recurrent 2% premium – will not be eligible for the premium for work with clients who have severe behaviour disorders (Letter of Agreement No. 17).
These financial incentives are clearly not enough to attract and retain workers in youth centres – in fact, for a number of employees, they constitute significant setbacks. The fact that Minister LeBel is publicly claiming they will solve the problems in youth centres is truly incredible.
The APTS demand is for a 5% premium for any employee working in a youth centre, as well as 5 floating days off per year. The union is also demanding a 5 to 10% premium to attract and retain experienced workers. The presence of such workers would help stabilize work teams in youth centres.
By comparison, employees working in a hospital setting – in the emergency department or in intensive care – are given a premium equivalent to 14% of their wages. We think it is perfectly reasonable that employees working in what is seen as the intensive care department of youth services should receive a comparable financial incentive.
in its new sectoral offers, the government says it wants to extend two premiums – for work with clients who have severe behaviour disorders, and for work in nursing homes (Letter of Agreement No. 18) – to March 30, 2023. This creates an issue that will be hanging over your heads until the next contract talks, since the premiums will not be automatically renewed when the collective agreement expires. In fact, the Legault government threatened to abolish them in March 2020 if we did not accept its offers.
To avoid repeating this unpleasant scenario, APTS demands include the incorporation of the premiums into the collective agreement and replacement of the lump sums involved by a premium equivalent to a percentage of the employee’s salary (4% for those working with clients who have severe behaviour disorders and 2% for those working in nursing homes).
As for the retention premium for psychologists, the employer wants to raise tier 2 to 9% while leaving tier 1 at 4.1%. Instead, the APTS is demanding that the enhanced premium be incorporated into the employee’s salary.
The government also wants to replace the professional coordination premium by a 5% responsibility premium, which would be given to any employee charged with supervising work and being responsible for a group of at least 4 people.
Lastly, a 2% trainee supervision premium would be given to employees charged with supervising trainees for job titles under the jurisdiction of a professional order. This premium could not be combined with the responsibility premium.
Government backs down on certain demands
The mobilization of APTS members has already had a noticeable impact on employer demands. The government is backing down on a number of proposals that were found unacceptable in 2020, as shown by the fact that the following demands no longer appear in the offers tabled on March 31:
- the obligation to work for three consecutive hours in order to receive the critical care premium,
- schedules of up to 12 hours for work days paid at the regular rate,
- abolition of the clause guaranteeing you will get at least 16 hours of rest when changing shifts.