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Quebec nurses union tells thousands of workers to refuse ‘abusive’ overtime this weekend: FIQ

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Quebec’s biggest nurses union encouraged staff across the province to refuse overtime this weekend in a push to get the province to put an end to the forced overtime system in the health-care network.

The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ) sent a notice to the provincial government Friday warning thousands of nurses wouldn’t work the extra hours on Saturday and Sunday, citing exhaustion among health-care workers who are working constant overtime to cover staffing shortages.

READ MORE: Quebec decision to delay mandatory vaccination sign of tough decisions for provinces

The FIQ called the overtime system “inhumane” and “abusive,” adding that it puts the health and safety of both nurses and patients at risk. The union added that it is also causing psychological damage to workers.

The notice gave Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé a Nov. 15 deadline to put a complete end to its “abusive use” of forced overtime.

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Dubé has agreed and said he wants to eliminate it, calling it unsustainable, but said the solution to getting there is by recruiting more workers to fill the staffing crisis.

READ MORE: Health-care staff shortages could be on the way as COVID-19 vaccine mandates loom

Until then, the health minister said the network managers have to make-do. He also called on the health-care network to find other innovative, temporary solutions.

CHU de Québec hospital union president Nancy Hogan, who represents over 4,000 nurses, nursing assistants and respiratory therapists, said the use of overtime has lasted too long.

READ MORE: Quebec nurses need better working conditions, according to report

“The overtime is constant. [Nurses] are exhausted, they no longer have a personal life,” Hogan said.

The FIQ says the use of forced overtime is considered “an abusive management practice that destroys all chances of recruiting thousands of health-care professionals that are needed.”

The union is also asking that the government implement a staff/patient ratio across Quebec.

In an effort to recruit more nursing staff, the Quebec government has said it is giving nurses financial bonuses of up to $18,000 as part of its emergency plan to fix the staffing crisis.

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–with files from the Canadian Press

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