The government owes health care workers thousands of dollars in bonuses and pay bumps.
For months, the Government of Quebec has promised the province's health care workers bonuses and pay bumps to both stabilize and recognize their essential role in managing the COVID-19 pandemic. But hundreds of professionals are claiming that they still haven't received the funds they're owed — and they're getting fed up.
So fed up, in fact, that they've taken to social media to do something about it. If you scroll through social media, you may find Quebec healthcare workers holding up signs with different amounts of money and #mobiliséespourêtrepayées (or #MobilizedToBePaid) written on them. There are also more than 200 of these photos on the Quebec Interprofessional Health Federation (FIQ) | Private sector (FIQP) website.
En date du 31 janvier 2022, elles n\u2019ont toujours pas \u00e9t\u00e9 pay\u00e9es pour les augmentations salariales et primes suppl\u00e9mentaires qui leur sont dues.\n\nLes professionnelles en soins respectent leur contrat de travail. \n\nRespectez-le vous aussi! \n\n#mobilis\u00e9espour\u00eatrepay\u00e9es #polqcpic.twitter.com/QAVPLAuLpt— Monsef Derraji (@Monsef Derraji) 1643761159
The FIQ, a labour organization representing 76,000 nurses, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists, told MTL Blog the campaign was started by the health care professionals in the Lanaudière region earlier this week to apply pressure on the government and on employers who are "slow in deploying the resources needed to address the delays in payment." Several FIQ and FIQP affiliated unions are participating.
The amount each person is owed varies, as exemplified by the numbers on their signs — most of which range between $3,000 and $10,000.
Some of the overdue money can be attributed to a collective agreement signed in October that included lump sums, a 3.5% recognition premium and retroactive salary increases. The FIQ said health care workers have not received any of this yet despite it being past the deadlines. For instance, all health care professionals should have been paid two lump sums of around $600 each by mid-January.
According to the FIQ, the government has both missed deadlines set out in the collective agreement as well as not set deadlines at all with certain premiums.
"The delays in paying the money that belongs to the healthcare professionals shows the government’s total lack of respect for them. Every day, the nurses, licensed practical nurses, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists comply with their work contract. They are with their patients non-stop, even sacrificing their health, their family and their personal life. They have been more than patient, but it’s gone too far now!" said FIQ President Julie Bouchard in an email.
"It is not normal that they should be penalized with impunity, when the deadlines have been known for months. The government must do everything in its power to honour its commitments.”
So what is the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS)'s reason for the delay? La Presse reported that the payroll system software is unable to process the adjustments and quoted Minister Christian Dubé as saying he is “embarrassed” by the fact that the "computer systems are obsolete."
"Minister Christian Dubé is as impatient as the nurses. We have outdated computer systems, but that's no excuse," said Marjaurie Cote-Boileau, communications director for the Office of the MSSS in an email to MTL Blog.
"A timetable was communicated this week to the unions, while the Minister met with them again today to take stock of the situation and find short-term solutions. We made a commitment to nurses and we will keep it. All amounts due will be paid."