Quebec still as dependent on private health agencies

Dependence on private agencies in the health network is not about to be reduced.

On Monday, the Government of Quebec launched a call for tenders which provides for the granting to private agencies of more than eight million hours of work per year for nursing care and assistance employees, i.e. nurses, nurse clinicians , nursing assistants, orderlies and auxiliaries, these famous employees who have to lighten the administrative tasks of nurses.

Quebec thus aims to fill working hours in all regions of Quebec with tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of hours per year depending on the region.

The contracts that will be awarded to the agencies are for six months, but the tender includes three renewal options of the same duration, so it will in fact cover two years. A rough calculation on the basis of 35 hours per week over 52 weeks indicates that this represents the equivalent of just over 4,600 full-time jobs.

Another contract already awarded

In addition, similar contracts have already been awarded this fall for nearly one million hours per year to agencies for occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers, respiratory therapists and other jobs related to these professions. In the latter case, we are talking about a total of nearly 855,000 hours per year, distributed among all the regions, again for a potential duration of two years.

Since, in the latter case, the contracts have already been awarded, we know their value and it amounts to $60 million per six months, for a total of $240 million for the full 24-month period. On the same summary calculation basis as above, we are talking here about the equivalent of 470 full-time jobs.

As for nursing care, since the contracts have not yet been awarded, we do not know their value, but since the needs as quantified are similar to last year, we can expect more than 750 million dollars, with last year’s total, all items combined, reaching $875 million.

Dubé: a law after the fact?

These contracts come as the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé, has been repeating in all tones for months that he is trying to free himself from the agencies. Tuesday, in an interview at Montreal Journalhe even said that he was considering a bill to regulate the use of agencies, a bill which could be tabled as soon as the next parliamentary session in January.

The idea of ​​a bill to regulate a practice that is already governed by contractual obligations leaves the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ) perplexed. In interview with The Canadian Press, its vice-president, Françoise Ramel, struggles to follow the minister’s speech: “Of course we are surprised because he speaks out of both sides of his mouth. On the one hand, he talks about drafting a bill against independent labour, then on the other hand, he calls for tenders with so many hours. »

The crisis in all of Quebec’s health establishments, which are all short of staff, leaves her little choice, she admits without difficulty: “We are also aware that we cannot eradicate the call for help – independent work overnight like that. It has to be progressive. »

TSO for agencies too

“Of course it’s a network dependency which is huge. We really need these people right now, but where are they going to find them? asks Françoise Ramel. However, she is delighted with the terms of the call for tenders, which obliges agency employees to work compulsory overtime when the establishments ask them to.

Also, the agencies are prohibited from hiring an employee who has left the network less than a year ago: “What is also good about this call for tenders is that it better fits mandatory overtime for agencies and better framed time before rehiring a person leaving for the network. It could help stem the bleeding of personnel. Except that we will not bring staff back like that if there are not better working conditions, attraction and retention of staff that are put in place. »

It is obvious that these hirings of personnel from private agencies, which are far from decreasing, risk being at the heart of a negotiation which promises to be difficult, the positions of Quebec and the unions being very far from each other.

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Quebec still as dependent on private health agencies

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