Montreal

Quebec, health-care union spar over new government whistleblower email account

The Quebec government rolled out a new whistleblower email address to let health-care workers confidentially report their concerns about workplace issues. But the initiative was dismissed by the province's largest nurses union, which said it was at best a duplication of their own confidential reporting project and at worst another effort by the government to muzzle staff.

FIQ says the project is another effort to silence workers

A confidential reporting project created by the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé has received about 900 reports, officials from the union say. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

The Quebec government rolled out a new whistleblower email address on Saturday to let health-care workers confidentially report their concerns about workplace issues.

But the initiative was almost immediately dismissed by the province's largest nurses union, which said it was at best a duplication of their own confidential reporting project and at worst another effort by the government to muzzle staff.

Health Minister Danielle McCann said she wants to break the code of silence that exists within the health-care industry, with many workers expressing fear of being punished if they speak out about their difficult working conditions.

The government says the onvousecoute@msss.gouv.qc.ca address will allow staff to confidentially and anonymously express their concerns, and that a specialized team has been created to follow up on the issues raised.

But in an interview on Radio-Canada, Nancy Bédard, president of the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé (FIQ), dismissed the project as a "spectacle" that aims to ensure that health-care workers "don't talk to the media and don't express themselves on social media."

Bédard said the government has been getting more information "from the field" than ever and already knows what solutions need to be implemented.

Union officials talk to the government and the minister daily, she said, and the FIQ has already created the Je dénonce website to collect confidential testimonials from workers. To date it has received around 900 reports, she said.

"I know the government reads it every day," she said. "We sent everything to the minister. This morning, I had everything sent to her office again, all the testimonials, all the requests."

McCann replied that her department wanted to receive workers' comments directly so that it can quickly respond to their concerns.

She also said she wants to "really speak up" for healthcare workers by revising the confidentiality agreements that exist in certain establishments. Proposals around those issues will be made this fall, she said.

With files from Antoni Nerestant and Radio-Canada's Isabelle Maltais

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