MONTREAL – The Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la Santé du Québec (FIQ), representing 66,000 healthcare workers, has accepted a deal in principle with Quebec’s Health Minister, Gaetan Barrette.
It’s a deal both parties are calling historical.
“It’s clear we paved the way for the negotiations in the healthcare system,” said Roberto Bomba, a spokesperson for the FIQ.
These negotiations have been in the works since March when collective agreements for thousands of government workers expired. And negotiations haven’t been easy.
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Discussions were tainted by rotating strikes and tense moments at the bargaining table.
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Today the mood was different.
Relief was in the air as the nurses’ union and the provincial government reached a compromise on several aspects of their working conditions.
“We were able to get gains that were important to our members,” said Bomba.
Notably adding more permanent positions as only a third of licensed practical nurses have steady jobs.
“Ultimately this will result in more stable work teams and improve the quality of care and continuity of care,” added Bomba. “And all this is being done without any additional costs to the healthcare system.”
Another major point is reducing the patient/nurse ratio by working on a pilot project.
“We look at the clinical status of the patients on a specific unit and also look at the number of patients,” said Bomba.
“On a regular basis, we adjust the need of healthcare professionals, on any given unit, on a period of 24 hours.”
The overlap period, a 15-minute voluntary period where nurses report on the status of the patient, will now be compensated.
“It’s a historic moment in terms of negotiations,” said Quebec’s Health Minister Gaetan Barrette.
“We’ve addressed issues that were not addressed in the past.”
Although Barrette is satisfied with the agreement, he recognizes more work is ahead on the salary issue.
“Discussions over that are ongoing at this time,” he said.
“I had a conversation this morning with my colleague Mr. Coiteux and it is my understanding things are going well in that aspect.”
Both parties are optimistic negotiations will wrap up before the holidays.