Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press Quebec should hear with public sector employees before the start of the strike on November 23, believes the PQ MP in Jean-Talon, Pascal Paradis. In the photo, Pascal Paradis at the National Assembly, October 17, 2023.
Quebec must reach an agreement quickly with public sector employees if it wants to avoid a “major social crisis”, believes the PQ MP for Jean-Talon, Pascal Paradis.
He took part in an interpellation at the Salon bleu with the Minister of Employment, Kateri Champagne Jourdain, on the theme of the labor shortage.
Mr. Paradis argued that it could be contained, and that it was all a question of political choices. He criticized the Legault government's decision to lower taxes at a cost of $9.2 billion.
“The money is where the government chooses to put it,” said Mr. Paradis. Quebecers say that there is a labor shortage, particularly in the education sector, fix it! »
The 420,000 members of the inter-union common front will hold a one-day strike next Monday. Nurses from the Fédération interprofessional de la santé du Québec (FIQ) will walk off the job on November 8 and 9.
Unless there is an agreement with the government, the 65,000 teachers of the Autonomous Education Federation (FAE) will launch an indefinite general strike on November 23.
“Will the [workers] count enough for […] that we offer them the conditions they deserve in order to curb the labor shortage problem? » asked Mr. Paradis on Friday.
According to him, a “major social crisis” is brewing, as half a million state workers go on strike next week. “The ball is in the government's court,” he argued.
Minister Champagne Jourdain, who is not responsible for negotiations with the public sector, replied that she was going to “send the message” to her colleague, the President of the Treasury Board, Sonia LeBel.
The offer that she submitted last Sunday was described by the unions as “clearly insufficient”.
A gap of 27.5%
Ms. LeBel is proposing a 10.3% salary increase over five years, in addition to a lump sum of $1,000 the first year.
To this is added an amount equivalent to 3% reserved for “government priorities”, which means that the government presents its offer as worth 14.8% over five years.
On Friday, Mr. Paradis said he wanted to “debunk certain myths about the government's offer ”.
“Our civil servants are paid less than comparables. The gap in the overall salary of Quebec workers with workers in companies with 200 or more employees is 9.4% in 2021.”
“If we compare with other federal and municipal workers, it “is a gap of 27.5%”, underlined the PQ MP.
Moreover, “the government always says that the offer is 14.8% on average. […] However, only 26% of the workers currently concerned will have differentiated offers of up to 14.8%.”
“The truth is that 74% of affected workers are going to get a 10.3% increase. That means 2.06% per year below the inflation rate,” continued Mr. Paradis.
The government is proposing to “impoverish” public sector employees, which “does not allow “not to attract them, nor to retain them”, he maintains.
The common front is demanding a three-year contract, i.e. the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 2% for the first year, or $100 per week, whichever is more beneficial to workers.
Then, he claims the CPI plus 3% for the second year, and the CPI plus 4% for the third year.
In a press scrum in Montreal on Friday afternoon, Prime Minister François Legault once again defended his government's offer, which he said is “reasonable.”
“It’s true, it’s not the same increase for everyone,” he said. I think that if we want to offer better services to Quebecers, we must concentrate our increases, for example, among psychologists […] and night nurses,” he declared.