Excitement is in the air at the APTS. We’ll be tabling our demands and launching the next round of public-sector contract talks in just a few days, and our whole organization is mobilized to make sure we’re ready. We asked APTS president Robert Comeau and APTS 1st vice-president Josée Fréchette, political officer responsible for national bargaining talks, to share their thoughts just before this key moment in our union life.
The APTS is set for a busy fall. With the fourth wave, professionals and technicians will once again come under excessive pressure, and our health and social services system will be forced to do a major juggling act just to maintain non-COVID-related care and services. As well, our union will be holding special general assemblies to present you with the government’s global offer that we received at the beginning of the summer.
I can’t predict the outcome of these contract talks to renew our members’ collective agreement, but I can tell you right now that the government has underestimated a key factor in the equation. It doesn’t fully appreciate the need to invest in attracting and retaining qualified personnel in its solutions to the blatant problems plaguing the health and social services sector. This is a serious miscalculation.
After being forced stop work, an exhausted technologist shares this personal account of morale levels in her sector. Her experiences resonate with far too many health and social services employees in the spring of 2021.
In my closing remarks to the 175 union delegates representing your local units at the General Council zoom meeting, I spoke off the cuff about my daughter who has dyspraxia. Given all the uncertainties of COVID-19, she’s had to come back home.
Unless we succeed in quickly stopping the pandemic through our collective efforts, the government will have to consider the possibility of withdrawing certain activities so that personnel can be reassigned to key locations. This is the reality of the situation even if two ministers, Christian Dubé and Lionel Carmant, have said they want to maintain all of the services usually provided to Quebecers.
Quebecers have made countless sacrifices to limit the pandemic’s impact. They have accepted significant restrictions on their freedom, placing their faith in government and following its directives. After all the soul-searching and questioning that this exceptional situation has evoked, and all the observations and conclusions calling for sweeping changes in the way we do things, the government’s uninspired proposal to get us out of the crisis is deeply dismaying.
On March 13, every aspect of our lives changed overnight. Our professional life and family/work balance were turned upside down, with our social life put on hold. Having to contend with a radical reorganization of our work is now a daily challenge. Could we dare to hope for positive changes that will endure?
Last March, Health and Social Services Minister Danielle McCann took strict measures to curb the pandemic. However noble the government’s intentions, its actions may come at a steep cost. By modifying the collective agreements of public-sector employees in health and social service facilities, the government upped the powers of managers to offset labour shortages that had been rampant in these facilities for far too long. Managers were given carte-blanche, with practically no safeguards to prevent them from taking shortcuts when implementing such measures in the bureaucratic behemoths that are now our integrated centres (CISSS and CIUSSS).