Gearing up for a hectic fall

Gearing up for a hectic fall

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.

But these aren’t the only events on the horizon that will mark our work and our union life. On September 20, the results of the federal election will be announced. The issue of federal health transfers is a key concern for the APTS, as federal funding could ease some of the pressure that the health and social services system is placing on Quebec’s public finances. And most of the solutions to reduce the impact of climate change, another issue that’s dear to us, depend on Ottawa.

On the provincial front, we’ll be heading into a pre-election year. The government is likely to announce initiatives in various regions across Quebec, including some involving the health and social services system. Whether announcing new programs or bigger hospitals, François Legault will be doing everything he can to show Quebecers that he’s taking steps to address the range of problems they’re facing.

Youth protection will be another major theme this fall. Minister Carmant is expected to introduce a bill to amend the Youth Protection Act, as promised following the publication of the final report from the Special Commission on the Rights of the Child and Youth Protection, chaired by Régine Laurent. The tabling of the bill will also provide an opportunity for the new director of youth protection, Catherine Lemay, to review the standards of practice in youth centres.

The whole question of home support and housing for seniors and other vulnerable people will be front-page news when the government releases its action plan based on its policy on housing and long-term care and services (Politique d’hébergement et de soins et services de longue durée), which was issued last spring by Minister Marguerite Blais. This is a key area of work for the APTS: we’ll be creating a consultation committee on the continuum of care and services for seniors, to help us follow up on this new action plan and related issues. In the same vein, we’ll be paying close attention to the upcoming hearings on the province’s management of the pandemic in CHSLDs, which are part of coroner Géhane Kamel’s public inquiry into the tragedies that struck these long-term care facilities in the spring of 2020.

Waiting lists have exploded over the past few months, and not just in youth centres. From mental health care to medical imaging and radiation oncology services, the pandemic and the ensuing withdrawal of personnel from regular services have significantly increased already lengthy wait times. To make matters worse, labour shortages and difficulties in attracting and retaining personnel in the health and social services system are in no way helping to reduce your work overload.

At the time this article was written, the Legault government didn’t have a comprehensive strategy to address these issues, and was relying instead on ad hoc measures as the problems escalated. The government can’t manage the health and social services system by decree, using the public health emergency to flout its obligations. All parties concerned need to work together to make optimal use of their combined expertise. Rather than turning to the private sector, the government needs to consult the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux and senior managers in health and social services facilities, along with union representatives, community groups and professional orders and associations.

These organizations have crucial expertise that can’t be ignored, and we all share the same goal of providing Quebecers with quality services.

by robert comeau | september 8, 2021

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