80,000 Quebec nurses on strike on Thursday and Friday

“Enough is enough,” said Danielle Roy, a nurse and FIQ union member, when protesting on Montreal's West Island against the working conditions as more healthcare workers joined picket lines across Quebec on Thursday. Gareth Madoc-Jones reports.

80,000 healthcare professionals from the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ) joined the picket lines, on strike Thursday and Friday.

Nurses, licensed practical nurses, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists are part of the union and dozens were on-hand at the demonstration on the West Island in Pointe-Claire.

The union – like the hundreds of thousands of public sector workers also on strike – are demanding better working conditions.

“Our patient ratios are through the roof,” said nurse, Danielle Roy. “Personally I’ve had 16 patients before. It’s just not safe and the compensation is not even keeping up with inflation.

“It’s getting ridiculous and we’ve long just had it on our shoulders.”

“Better pay, better treatment of nurses in clinical settings and in the community settings,” is what school nurse Ashley Engel says it’s all about.

“It’s frustrating because I think we deserve to be treated a little better because for all the work that we do and we go, a lot of us, a lot of us go beyond what we’re asked for for our patients,” said nurse Joanna Slawek. 

In a press release, the president of the FIQ, Julie Bouchard, says that salary increases do not cover inflation and that the Quebec government wants to be able to “move healthcare professionals between centres like pawns without taking their expertise into account.”

“It doesn’t mean because I’m a nurse I can do everything,” said school nurse, Annie-Claude Brunet. “I am specialized in some of the tasks that I do on a daily basis but then if you move me in a department I don’t know or I’ve never been working there, it’s getting hard and that’s what concerns us a lot.” 

“When we have an expertise in certain places, we should put those in practice and keep the nurses where they want to work because they will give us the best and the safest care that they can give to the population,” said nurse François Certosini.

“If it’s possible for the decision makers who don’t know what we do, if they could spend a week in our shoes and shadow us, we get permission to have them follow us for them to really see what we’re doing to understand,” said nurse Viviane Schami. “One day we might have to be their nurses and they’ll see how much that we do and how important our role is.” 

“In the long term, we would like to have better care for our patient and better condition for the nurses,” nurse Nathalie Losier said. “And unfortunately it does cause a lot of problem I understand, but we have to do it now if we want to have something later to be proud of.”  

“Enough is enough,” said Roy. “Help us.” 

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