Unions urge Quebec government to find long-term solutions for workers

Unions and labor organizations in Quebec urged Finance Minister Eric Girard to prioritize the government’s “fundamental missions” over its financial goals during Monday’s pre-budget consultations.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the fragility of the health network, due to a lack of personnel, aggravated by years of budgetary restrictions”, declared the FTQ, the CSN, the CSQ and the CSD in their joint press release. on the meeting with Girard .

“The education network has also been shaken, because it too is understaffed and has suffered the consequences of dilapidated, poorly equipped, poorly ventilated schools,” declared the president of the Centrale des unions du Québec, Éric Gingras, in an interview on Monday.

Beyond the temporary bonuses that Quebec has unilaterally decided to give to compensate for the urgent lack of workers during the pandemic, the four union centers are calling for a real “social dialogue” to find ways to attract and retain staff.

“And no, it’s not just a question of salary. It also means better working conditions and recognition for health, education and child care staff,” Gingras said.

“Over the past few years, we have put in place, in different places, kinds of ‘band-aids’ to solve the short-term problems of shortage, attraction and retention of workers,” he said.

“It’s true in public services, it’s also true in the private sector. Now, we have to sustain with a plan for the next few years.”

In the private sector, Labor Minister Jean Boulet has set up a range of programs to help workers and businesses in sectors such as construction, information technology, digital and the green transition.

Several measures concern work-study, training and retraining.

But unions add that other sectors have been hit hard by the pandemic and are still suffering, citing hospitality, culture, transport and catering.

The four organizations also want the government to step up on the payment of amounts to the Generations Fund, as well as on comparisons of the wealth gap with Ontario.

“Since Québec’s public finances have improved markedly in recent years and the recovery will essentially depend on fiscal and budgetary policies, the government must not hesitate to take on more debt, if necessary, in order to get out of the crisis, finance economic recovery. and avoid a return to fiscal austerity,” declared the FTQ, the CSN, the CSQ and the CSD.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published in French on February 14, 2022.

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