MAY 14, 2020 | No. 5

After working for weeks on the special measures tied to the COVID-19 crisis, the APTS and the government are now going ahead with provincial contract talks.

The government recently proposed a new general bargaining framework in the aim of settling and signing the collective agreement quickly. But to arrive at a quick settlement, the government wants us to not negotiate the vast majority of current working conditions.

Before the crisis, technicians and professionals had to contend with difficult working conditions, and the current situation has exposed how slow and unwieldy our health and social services system is.

The APTS is ready to negotiate, but not in a haphazard way.

Adjusting to the health crisis and the economic crisis

The APTS has redefined its strategic bargaining framework to take into consideration the current crisis. The economic situation a few weeks ago in Québec is very different from the situation we face today. We want to take that into account in our discussions with the government.

Technicians and professionals had to endure challenging work conditions well before the crisis (work overload, lack of personnel, physical violence, etc.). We think these working conditions still have to be a major focus so that the negotiations can lead to long-term solutions. Everyone loses out if things don't change. Not only will our members continue to suffer, the situation will also affect the population's access to quality services.

It's imperative that the negotiations be re-centred on working conditions, rather than strictly focusing on salary and financial issues as the government would like.

Two visions of negotiations

The government is proposing a bargaining framework to discuss salaries immediately. It also wants to postpone talks on retirement and parental rights and defer them to joint committees, where it may take months for discussions to get underway.

In response, the APTS-FIQ proposal is to have these key matters of retirement and parental rights duly negotiated according to a proper schedule. While salary talks are important, they must not prevent us from negotiating these other matters immediately.

The government wants to exclude the issue of regional disparities from the negotiations. The APTS-FIQ alliance insists on including it, as we find it essential that measures be taken to improve working conditions and ensure greater accessibility of care and services in remote regions.

Like the FIQ, the APTS reiterated the importance of improving the other working conditions provided in the collective agreement, to help attract and retain technicians and professionals in public health and social services.

We're waiting for the government's response and will keep you posted.