ontario news watch

Public sector strikes: Quebec nurses, health staff launch two-day walkout

MONTREAL — Quebec health-care workers launched a two-day strike today, the latest group to walk off the job over stalled contract talks with the provincial government.

The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé, or FIQ, represents 80,000 nurses, licensed practical nurses, respiratory therapists and other health professionals, and the strike is affecting the majority of health-care facilities across the province.

Essential services are being maintained during the 48-hour strike, but the Health Department says some non-urgent surgeries could be postponed.

The government is negotiating with unions representing hundreds of thousands of public sector workers, including the FIQ. 

Unions rejected Quebec’s latest contract offer — a 10.3-per-cent salary increase over five years and a one-time payment of $1,000 to each worker.

Labour unions are demanding a three-year contract with annual increases tied to the inflation rate: two percentage points above inflation in the first year or $100 per week, whichever is more beneficial, followed by three points higher in the second year and four points higher in the third.

The FIQ said today it will hold two more strike days — on Nov. 23 and Nov. 24 — during the same week many other public sector unions are planning to strike.

On Monday members of four major public sector unions in Quebec walked off the job for one day and have promised to strike again between Nov. 21 and Nov. 23. Meanwhile, the FAE union, which represents some 65,000 Quebec elementary and high school teachers, has said it will launch an unlimited general strike on Nov. 23.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 8, 2023.

The Canadian Press