APRIL 9, 2021 | No. 13

Government marks full year without a contract by tabling third set of paltry offers

March 31, 2021, was the first anniversary of the day 60,000 APTS members saw their collective agreement expire. Treasury Board president Sonia LeBel chose this symbolic date to present new offers at the bargaining tables.

These offers are almost identical to the ones that were rejected last fall, especially in terms of intersectoral matters (salary, retirement, parental rights and regional disparities). No measures are included to end the labour shortage that is severely affecting the health and social services system. More importantly, there is nothing to ensure that our system remains public or to halt the privatization of care and services that will end up costing Quebecers even more.

Here is where things currently stand at the bargaining tables for intersectoral and sectoral matters.


The “new” salary offer tabled on March 31 still amounts to a 5% increase over 3 years.

  • Year 1 increase: 1.75%, with an additional lump-sum amount ($0.55 for each hour worked between April 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020) for those who have been at the top echelon for more than a year.
  • Year 2 increase: 1.75%, with an additional lump-sum amount ($0.66 for each hour worked between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021) for all health and social services employees.
  • Year 3 increase: 1.5%.

If the Québec economy is doing well and inflation is above 5% at the end of the period covered by the collective agreement we are now negotiating, an economic clause would ensure that proposed increases were enhanced by at most 1%. Given the stated conditions, this clause would do no more than cover an increase in the cost of living. Minister LeBel is still not suggesting anything that would abolish the gap between public sector workers and other workers in Québec.

Convened by their respective decision-making bodies, APTS and FIQ delegates rejected the government offer on April 6.

This vote is a warning to the Treasury Board. The APTS-FIQ alliance is saying that there can be no agreement in principle without a catch-up salary increase and recognition of the expertise provided by their 131,000 members. To ensure this recognition, the alliance is demanding a 12.4% increase over 3 years, of which 7.4% involves  no more than catching up.

An overwhelming majority of APTS members are women (86%). Could this be the reason why the government is making us this kind of offer? Pay raises for health and social services professionals and technicians have been below inflation for the past 20 years, meaning that their purchasing power has constantly been eroded. This is why we now speak of wage discrimination when we talk about our members’ compensation.

Over the next few weeks, the APTS-FIQ alliance will be launching a major campaign to denounce this ongoing discrimination. The theme will be Paid a woman’s wage.

payée au féminin

A profession is just as valuable as a trade.But for François Legault's government, the male category will always outweigh the female.

Every day, we're paid a woman's wage to do essential work. It's time for things to change.


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.

Youth centres

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.

Faced with the government’s refusal to budge on issues that are crucial for professionals and technicians in the health and social services system, our only option now is to consider the possibility of strike action to respond to the intransigence of Sonia LeBel, Christian Dubé and François Legault.

At the APTS General Council meeting on March 10, your union representatives voted unanimously for a mandate to take strike action for a maximum of 10 days. This decision was not taken lightly; it was needed to protect your jobs, your physical and mental health, and, especially, the accessibility and quality of services provided by our public system.

A series of special general assemblies began on March 29 and will continue until May 6, 2021. Initial results are unequivocal: you are ready to strike if government offers continue to be based on nothing but contempt. The well-being of all Quebecers is at stake.