Retaining Staff in Health Care in the Outaouais Begins with Improved Working Conditions, Not Their Erosion

On October 9, nurses, licensed practical nurses and respiratory therapists from the Outaouais and allies held a march to say loud and clear that in order to retain staff, the employer must improve working conditions, starting with the elimination of mandatory overtime whereby nurses sometimes have to work 12 hours or more without a break.

The march, organized by the Outaouais Care Professionals Union (SPSO), symbolically gathered at La Pieta Hospital in Hull and then crossed the Alexandra Bridge to Ottawa to underscore the exodus of nurses from the province that could occur if their working conditions continue to deteriorate. Throughout the march, the health care professionals chanted slogans denouncing different aspects of their grueling working conditions that their employer, the Integrated Health and Social Services Center of the Outaouais (CISSSO), wants to further aggravate. Among the requests for concessions made by CISSSO during the current round of local negotiations for the renewal of the collective agreement are compulsory overtime, the abolition of a weekend off every two weeks, to force the professionals in care to be available every weekend, and the ability to change the work schedule to less than 48 hours without notice. There is also the demand for nurses to travel several kilometres to work in different locations at the employer’s discretion.