Consequences of Neo-Liberal Management of Health Care Network

In an opinion piece published in the newspaper Le Devoir on October 1, entitled « Lack of nurses: a real or structural shortage?, » Mia Laberge, a union advisor with the Interprofessional Health Care Federation of Quebec (FIQ), criticizes health care network employers who invoke the argument that there is a shortage of nurses to block the implementation of professional/patient care ratios. Such ratios, she claims, are an essential remedy for nurses’ collective exhaustion.

She writes, « The labour shortage is widespread. Employers can no longer hide behind such a pipe dream. It’s affecting the well-being of thousands of Quebec workers and the quality of care for many more patients. »

The author cites statistics showing that, from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017, more nurses joined the profession than left, and that the number of retirements was almost the same as the previous year. She writes that although for 15 years a full 95 per cent of nurses have been employed, part-time positions are proliferating to the detriment of full-time jobs. While job insecurity continues to assail nurses, there is constant recourse to overtime, mandatory overtime and an independent workforce that comes from private placement firms. The lack of full-time positions, she writes, inevitably results in a shortage of personnel and an overload on health care professionals.

She also says that, « The neo-liberal management of the health care network is interfering more and more openly in the care being provided. Nurses constantly suffer organizational violence; it is they who compensate without let up for the failures of managers, the greed of doctors, the Toyota reforms, the Lean programs, the lack of political will, the underfunding of the public health care system. Using their calling against them, they are forever being asked for increased flexibility, mobility over greater distances, to travel from Saint-Eustache to Notre-Dame-du-Laus, to conciliate. »

The author concludes by saying that adequate healthcare professional/patient care ratios are an essential and urgent remedy to the collective fatigue of nurses and must be established immediately.