Exasperated, the nurses took out the heavy artillery and appealed to the court to declare the ministerial decree unconstitutional and “abusive” which, since March 21, allows managers to cancel their leaves, holidays and override their collective agreements.
A motion was filed Monday in this regard before the Superior Court of Quebec by the Interprofessional Health Federation of Quebec (FIQ) representing 76,000 members, and that grouping 1,700 nurses in the private sector (FIQP-FIQ).
“We made all the requests, we made demonstrations, we denounced that on all the stands. There, we have gone to court so that managers stop using By-law 007 in an abusive manner and continue to violate our rights, “said Nancy Bédard, President of the FIQ, on Monday.
In its motion, the FIQ alleges that the decree endowing the Legault government and its managers with exceptional powers, renewed for a 16e times since the start of the pandemic in March, no longer has its raison d’être, given the favorable evolution of the health situation in Quebec. Since June, “it is obvious […] that the curve of confirmed cases is now flattened and controlled, ”writes the FIQ.
This is why it judges that “the indefinite extension” of the order “infringes the rights and freedoms of its members” in a manner that is not justifiable under the Canadian and Quebec charters of rights, and asks the court to declare it unconstitutional or inoperative.
“The nurses gave a lot and accepted what many people would not have accepted. Managers are now using orders to address the problems that existed before the pandemic. It was a very harsh measure, an exceptional measure, which must end, “said the union chief.
An undue extension
According to Nancy Bédard, examples of institutions that claim excessive powers at the expense of the health and privacy of nurses persist without reason. Compulsory full time continues to be the norm in several regions, as do compulsory overtime, regardless of the family responsibilities of its members, 90% of whom are women.
“It is not the health of the population that we protect with these measures [l’arrêté], it’s simply used for convenience by managers. The nurses can’t take it anymore, they just want to quit! “Says Mme Bédard, who has just toured the network.
At the CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, for example, experienced nurse practitioners responsible for monitoring patients in the Family Medicine Group (GMF) are transferred to compensate for the staff shortage in other establishments. “It’s just not the right people in the right place!” “Believes Mme Bedard. In this CIUSSS, no less than 259 nurses have resigned since 1er March, says the FIQ.
At the University Institute in mental health of Montreal (IUSMM), where no patient with COVID-19 is treated and where no surgery is performed, the ministerial decree decreed because of a pandemic is nevertheless applied to the letter . “People even end up being surplus to the staff there were before the pandemic. When schedules are made by computer, it’s chaos. We will prove it in court, ”said the FIQ again.
According to Mme Bédard, however, targeted agreements could be negotiated locally with the unions, as is often the case in the event of a shortage of staff or the risk of service disruption. The FIQ intends to meet soon on this subject with the new Minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, as well as the President of the Conseil du trésor, Sonia LeBel.
A nurse by profession, Denis Dubé, and his local unit, the Union of Health and Social Services Professionals of Center-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal (SPSS-CSIM-FIQ), will be involved in this cause .
The FIQ and the FIQP had already brandished their weapons last Friday by challenging in the Superior Court the directive of the National Directorate of Public Health of June 9 limiting the wearing of the N95 mask to very specific medical situations, namely those generating aerosols.
The nursing union alleges that the restrictive nature of this directive has endangered the lives of nursing staff, increasing the risk of contracting COVID-19. According to him, there is no longer any shortage which justifies restricting access to the N95 to nurses since that date and limiting protective equipment to surgical masks only.
The nurses gave a lot and accepted what many people would not have accepted. Managers are now using orders to address the problems that existed before the pandemic.