Quebec public servants open to helping out in health-care system, despite lack of notice

Quebec's largest public service union is unhappy about the short notice given to its members who have been asked by the Legault government to work temporarily as service assistants to ease health-care workers' workload.

Syndicat de la fonction publique et parapublique du Québec (SFPQ) president Christian Daigle said conversations about this proposal with the Treasury Board only took place last Friday, and on Sunday he said he learned that his members had until Monday evening to express their interest.

Quebec City put out a call to public servants to fill temporary positions as service assistant with around 2,100 people needed, including cleaning, disinfection and housekeeping staff. Those who accept the position would be released from their regular duties and could receive a COVID-19 bonus, Daigle said.

In an interview Monday, the union leader said he isn't against the idea, adding that during the first wave of COVID-19, his members agreed to come and help out.

However, he would have appreciated better communication with Quebec and a word of thanks that never came for civil servants, he said.

Daigle's members also work in snow removal, at the Régie de l'assurance-maladie and at the Ministry of Transport, among other things, and he noted that those essential services must not be stripped away.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Jan. 17, 2021.