Thousands of Quebec nurses refusing overtime on Monday

Thousands of Quebec’s unionized nurses are refusing to work overtime on Monday, part of a labour action against workdays they say can often stretch to 16 hours.

The union said more than 70,000 nurses will take part in the protest action, with exceptions being made for emergency situations. 

According to the union, 90 per cent of its membership is women, with many of those being single parents. They said that working an eight hour shift, only to be told near the end that a nurse is obligated to work an additional eight hours causes burnout and for many young nurses to leave the healthcare network. 

"They know that they're going to have to force overtime," said union vice-president Denyse Joseph. "All the time the schedule is made, they're not trying to find solutions because for the past 10 years they're used to saying 'I'll force someone.'"

Last Friday, the Labour Administration Tribunal ordered nurses to “unconditionally accept” any request for mandatory overtime from employers in “urgent and exceptional situations.” Nurses would be able to refuse compulsory overtime on other occasions.

The nurses’ union said many facilities have routinely abused their requests for compulsory overtime.

McCann has promised to abolish compulsory overtime. In the most recent budget $200 million was set aside to hire more healthcare workers, but the nurses’ union said that since the money was to be spread across multiple professions, it didn’t come close to the $350 million just for nurses they said was necessary to ensure a proper workforce.