1500% jump in costs for independent labor since the creation of the CISSS-AT

The amount obtained under the Access to Information Act represents an increase of 15% over the previous year and 1508% since 2015.

It is a disaster. We see that from year to year, it does not stop swelling and nothing is concretely done to reduce it. »

A quote from Jean-Sébastien Blais, President of the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Interprofessional Health Federation

Labor shortage

The CISSS de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue attributes this new increase to the significant shortage of employees that affects it. The organization estimates that more than 1,000 workers are currently absent or missing from the region’s health and social services network.

The costs are directly associated with our growing need for independent labour. The labor shortage is growing. The fifth and sixth waves of COVID-19 necessitated increased use of freelance laborexplains the assistant director of human resources, legal affairs and communications of the CISSS-AT, Mathieu Fortier.

The president of the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Interprofessional Health Federation, Jean-Sébastien Blais, regrets that the upward trend in costs for the independent workforce of the CISSS-AT is not being reversed.

Every year, more and more money is constantly being spent without, however, having attraction and retention measures that guarantee us that staff will stay in the regions. There is no stability at the level of healthcare professionals he explains.

The president of the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Interprofessional Health Federation (FIQ-SISSAT), Jean-Sébastien Blais.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Andrei Audet

Reporting to private agencies, independent labor is used by the CISSS-AT when it does not have the necessary staff within its establishments.

Since May 1, the majority of employment agencies in Quebec must now respect a new fee schedule. The maximum hourly rate is $74.36 for nurse clinicians, $71.87 for nurses, $47.65 for nursing assistants and $41.96 for orderlies. These amounts may be increased by 20% in certain remote regions such as Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

Paratechnical personnel in auxiliary services and trades, which includes beneficiary attendants, form the category of employees for which the CISSS-AT had to spend the largest amount of money on independent labor in 2021- 2022, with nearly $40 million.

Elsewhere in Quebec

Among the province’s CISSSs that have made their 2021-2022 financial report public, that of Abitibi-Témiscamingue is the third to have allocated the most money for the use of independent labour, for a clientele on average three times smaller to serve than elsewhere in Quebec.

Impact on the CISSS-AT budget

The tens of millions spent by the CISSS-AT on independent labor affect the organization’s budget, to the point where it recorded a seventh deficit in a row in 2021-2022.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) has also requested a plan to return to balanced budgets. By e-mail, the MSSS informs that the government is aware of the issues related to the scarcity of manpower, the costs related to independent labor and concerned about the specific issues encountered by establishments in remote regions.

In order to absorb part of the expenses related to the use of independent labour, the CISSS-AT certifies that no budget cuts are applied to services directly offered to the population.

Freelance workforce management

Jean-Sébastien Blais considers that the CISSS-AT could reduce the costs related to independent labor if it used it more adequately and efficiently.

Often there is freelance labor used when the needs are not there. People come to do seven or ten 16-hour shifts when we only need them for four 16-hour shifts. Freelance labor is therefore used for fewer services than we actually needdenounces the president of the FIQ-SISSAT.

Mathieu Fortier indicates that the logistics and management of independent labor within the CISSS-AT are different from those of its own staff.

There are sectors that are highly dependent on independent labour. It is precisely a workforce that is autonomous and we do not necessarily have the ability to maintain long-term planning with them.points out the assistant director of human resources, legal affairs and communications of the CISSS-AT.

Revise the development of schedules

The Abitibi-Témiscamingue Interprofessional Health Federation encourages the CISSS-AT to implement self-management of schedules in order to reduce the use of independent labour.

Self-management of schedules

Self-management of schedules allows managers of activity centers and departments to develop schedules for their own team. For example, a manager in Amos could not define the work schedules of a department in Rouyn-Noranda.

The president of the FIQ-SISSAT, Jean-Sébastien Blais, evokes the case of the emergency at the Center hospitalier de Rouyn-Noranda, where self-management of schedules would have made it possible to completely eradicate the use of labor independent.

The assistant director of human resources, legal affairs and communications of the CISSS-AT, Mathieu Fortier, confirms that the organization intends to extend this type of schedule to other establishments, in particular those offering care 24 24 hours, 7 days a week.

All that is the modulation and the organization of schedules, for us, it is a way which is certainly necessary and important to explore and to work to solve the issue of labor and the challenge of the workforce – independent work. »

A quote from Mathieu Fortier

The CISSS-AT is also working to offer more advantageous and predictable schedules to certain segments of its employees.

We are currently working more on innovative timetable development projects. We are therefore more in compositions of people who work full time, but with schedules: I work seven days, I have seven days offsays Mathieu Fortier.


Mathieu Fortier argues that reducing the use of independent labor and the associated costs also involves recruiting and training new health care workers.

We work quite intensively, both with educational institutions for the development of cohorts and for accelerated training. We are also working on the international aspect, which has been developed a lot in recent years.assures the assistant director of human resources, legal affairs and communications of the CISSS-AT.

Asked whether the various measures to reduce the use of independent labor will have a positive impact on the finances of the CISSS-AT, Mr. Fortier prefers to remain cautious.

We cannot position ourselves and say that there would be a decrease because the shortage [de main-d’œuvre] is maintained in all sectors. We will therefore not necessarily see a decrease in the next year.he points out.

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1500% jump in costs for independent labor since the creation of the CISSS-AT

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