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  • Writer's pictureStuart Benson

Wakefield nurse says bonus, 'just another contract'

The Wakefield Hospital. Low Down file photo

“It's not a bonus,” Interprofessional Health Federation of Quebec (FIQ) union member and Wakefield Hospital nurse Vicki Beauparlant told the Low Down when asked about the bonuses being offered to nurses to combat the labour shortage.

“It’s just another contract,” she said, adding that, even though she has yet to see any contract or agreement, she won’t be taking the bonuses offered to part time and retired healthcare workers. “I’m not going to sign it.”

The offer was announced by Health Minister Christian Dubé on Sept. 23.

According to Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO), since the bonuses have been announced, they have hired 28 nurses as of Nov. 12, with 27 more candidates currently in the hiring process. The public agency responsible for administering health and social services in the Outaouais region also said that 28 part-time employees had also upgraded to full-time hours. bonuses have been announced,

FIQ is challenging the government on the restrictions that come with the bonuses, detailed in the government’s ministerial decree 2021-071, dated Oct. 16. The FIQ is a union organization with nearly 76,000 members of nurses, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists working in health establishments across the province.

According to the decree, of the up to $18,000 in bonuses promised to nurses who choose to work full-time in certain parts of the province where the labour shortage is at its worst – including in the Outaouais, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, and Côte-Nord regions – $10,000 of that would only be paid out after the completion of a one year contract. The rest of the money would be paid out “pro-rata” or proportionally to the amount of hours worked, beginning once the employee has signed their commitment.

Despite the fact that the ministerial decree states that, in order to be eligible for the money, the contracts must be signed no later than Dec. 15, Beauparlant said that members of the union were not being given adequate time to inspect the finer details nor suggest improvements.

“Before someone signs, they need to read and re-read the contract to make sure you don’t get screwed over in a year,” Beauparlant advised. “I don’t want to owe money to the government if I have to go on leave because someone in my family died… a lot can happen in a year.”

Beauparlant also criticized the bonuses as a whole, calling them a public relations move by the health minister, more intended to calm the public’s anxiety over the labor shortage in the healthcare system, without putting much thought into the implementation.

“He just says things to make himself look good,” Beauparlant said. “Then people think we’re all good because we’re getting an $18,000 bonus and we’re not, it’s just another contract.”


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