Feminist encounter with history

The Quebec Federation of Occupational Health – FIQ is North America’s largest women’s professional union organization. Its members are health sciences professionals and work every day for the well-being of Quebecers, prevention, public and community health, and the reduction of social inequalities. They are members of professional associations and societies, which gives them a high degree of responsibility towards their patients and residents, in particular protecting their rights and their physical and psychological integrity.

These women who work in the Public Health Network are entrusted with our lives and the lives of our loved ones.

However, the current salary structure for care jobs is seriously behind schedule due to the chronic devaluation of the traditional female occupation. It is clear that the type of clinical and technical knowledge of healthcare professionals compares favorably with male occupations. However, the wage gap persists and results in women being penalized economically. Despite all the evidence we have, this proves that the undervaluation of the nature of care professions continues to be characterized by a very masculine view of the economy, which does not recognize the true economic value of the health care and services provided by women.

The large wage imbalance between health care professionals in Quebec and those in other Canadian provinces also persists. Failure to raise the standard helps undermine the profession’s importance in Quebec society compared to other healthcare professionals elsewhere in the country.

After decades of political choices that have made public services and the hundreds of thousands of women working there precarious, the consequences have been brutal. The loss of purchasing power, which stems from years of budget cuts that unfortunately are bearing the brunt of health care professionals, also sends a very bad signal to the younger generation we are trying to attract into the public health care network.

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This is a real problem for the coming years in Quebec, given that the population is aging. A county boosting the growth of its workforce of healthcare professionals will be able to ensure its important mission of caring for its population despite a rapidly aging demographic.

In the current global context, the lack of a vision to ensure that nurses are retained and a new generation of healthcare professionals are employed in sufficient numbers makes us particularly vulnerable and extremely inflexible in times of crisis.

Correcting discrepancies

What healthcare professionals are asking is that the government forever corrects their inequality.

Despite the adoption of the Equal Pay Act in 1996, fair pay for healthcare professionals is a question that remains unanswered. Recent salary offers made by the employer in May are not sufficient to compensate, among other things, for salary compensation, the need for career enhancement and the salary discrimination targeted by women in predominantly female sectors. One way to learn about the economic value of work in our society is to set wages accordingly.

In addition, through private agencies, the health network is already financing better salaries. Network managers who use freelance employment finance private agency profits and treatment disparities between healthcare professionals and those who work through agencies. They can benefit from better working conditions, better wages and immediate benefits, such as payment of their work permit. This nonsense needs to be corrected. Despite frequent interventions by the FIQ and the legislative tools and power at its disposal, the government is slow to address this inconsistency and continues to fund the private sector rather than offering better wages for its workforce.

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The past year has demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that it is essential for Quebec society to be better prepared for crisis. In this sense, recognition of the strategic value of healthcare professionals’ work as well as the positive effects of better pay on retaining the workforce and reducing gender inequality are fences to sustain our health system and our economy. The government can no longer ignore women’s contribution to the health sector, and their credibility is at stake.

A year after the outbreak of the pandemic and the end of the national collective agreement, the prime minister has an unmissable appointment with tens of thousands of professional women caring for the health and social services network.

Let’s listen to the women, let’s hear from Healthcare Professionals!

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