By Jack Wilson
Local Journalism Initiative
Close to 400 delegates from the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ) marched down King St. West in Sherbrooke June 13 demanding a better offer from the province. The union, made up of about 80,000 nurses, auxiliary nurses and other care professionals is in the midst of negotiations with the province. Their last contract expired March 31.
The march left from the Delta conference centre, where delegates from across the province had met to discuss the ongoing negotiations. A group of hired drummers joined the demonstrators, leading them in chants of, “hello, hello Mr. Legault.” Cars ground to a halt as the protestors slowly marched along the busy thoroughfare. Many drivers honked their support.
“The government’s offers are completely insufficient,” said FIQ president Julie Bouchard in the leadup to the march. “That’s why we’re taking to the streets today.”
The union’s demands include a lightened workload, more consideration of work-life balance and higher pay. The province has offered FIQ members a nine per cent raise over five years, while the union is asking for 12 per cent over three years tied to purchasing power. “Up to now, the government’s offers respond little to the demands of care professionals,” Bouchard said, adding that 90 per cent of her union’s membership is dissatisfied with the tabled pay increase.