By Jeff Pelletier
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The union representing nurses at Inuulitsivik Health Centre have launched a petition asking the provincial health minister to intervene in their long-standing calls to improve working conditions at clinics on Nunavik’s Hudson Bay coast.
The petition accuses Inuulitsivik management of “administratively abusive” treatment of employees and creating a toxic work environment.
It calls on Health Minister Christian Dube to intervene by facilitating a negotiation process between the workers and their employer; to order Inuulitsivik to meet the nurses’ demands for improved hours and working conditions; and to remove the health centre’s assistant executive director from their position.
“If I was Inuit on the Hudson coast, I would be anxious wondering if I’m really receiving the better care I deserve,” said Cyril Gabreau, president of the Northern Union of Hudson Bay Nurses, in an email.
“Inuulitsivik management has no mandate to negotiate better conditions. As their union rep, I’m really scared of the upcoming weeks.”
Gabreau was not available for an interview after emailing the petition to Nunatsiaq News early Wednesday morning.
The petition has received more than 100 signatures and dozens of comments from nurses from inside and outside the region.
Juliette Rolland, a senior adviser in Inuulitsivik’s executive management, said she only became aware of the petition after being contacted by Nunatsiaq News.
She said she would provide an update at the end of the day following a meeting with management, however that hadn’t been received as of late afternoon Wednesday.
Antoine de la Durantaye, Dube’s press secretary, did not respond to a phone call, email and text message requesting comment on the petition.
Dube announced Wednesday his government is tabling a bill to address Quebec’s dependence on private medical company contracts.
Speaking to reporters in Quebec City, he addressed how province-wide working conditions create challenges in recruiting and retaining health-care workers.
“I’m after having a good retention program, and that is part of the solution,” Dube said.
“Those are the conditions that will make people want to stay, or to come back to the system.”
Dube did not speak about Nunavik-specific issues in that press conference.
Nurses from the Hudson Coast communities have been calling for improved working conditions for close to a year, citing staffing shortages and employee burnout.
Last month, nurses walked off the job in protest for a few hours before being ordered back to work by a labour tribunal.
Jeff Pelletier is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with
NUNATSIAQ NEWS. The LJI program is federally funded.