Exasperated, the nurses took out the heavy artillery and appealed to the court to have the ministerial decree declared 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 sense 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 Order 007 in an abusive manner and continue to flout our rights, “said Nancy Bédard, President of the FIQ, on Monday.
In its application, the FIQ alleges that the decree giving the government special powers Legault and his managers, renewed for a 16 th foisdepuis the pandemic began in March, no longer has its reason for being, given the favorable development 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 cannot be justified 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, ”says the union chief.
An undue extension
According to Nancy Bédard, the examples of establishments which 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 is protected with these measures [the decree], it is simply used for convenience by managers. The nurses can’t take it anymore, they just want to quit! Says Ms. Bédard, who has just toured the network.
At the CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Mont-Réal, for example, experienced nurse practitioners responsible for monitoring patients in the Family Medicine Group (GMF) are transferred to compensate for the lack of staff in ‘other establishments.
“It’s just not the right people in the right place!” “, Believes Ms. Bédard. In this CIUSSS, no fewer than 259 nurses have resigned from the 1 st of 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 due to pandemic is however applied to the letter .
“People even end up being in surplus compared 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 Ms. Bédard, targeted agreements could however be negotiated locally with the unions, as is often the case in the event of a shortage of staff or the risk of a break in service.
The FIQ also 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 arms 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, since that date, access to the N95 to nursing staff and to limit protective equipment to surgical masks only.