Quebec homeworkers want compensation for high gas prices

Thousands of health and social care workers who provide home care or travel to families’ homes for work have faced rising gasoline prices in recent months.

Their unions are now asking the government to agree on a compensation amount to make up the difference.

Usually, the allowances paid for the use of a vehicle for work purposes are adjusted in April and October of each year, explained Julie Bouchard, president of the Interprofessional Health Federation (FIQ), in an interview Monday.

She said she would like affected workers to receive compensation by the next review in October.

“We want to be able to agree on a compensatory amount that would cover the costs that some people have to pay out of pocket to make up for this inconvenience, to make sure they don’t have to pay out of their own wallets,” Bouchard said.

The compensation is 62 cents per kilometer since April 1 and 55 cents after 8,000 kilometres, the union leader said.

“It’s clearly insufficient,” she said.

The issue could concern nurses, nursing assistants, orderlies, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers and any other intervener who visits families.

“Some healthcare workers have complained directly to their managers, but it seems they [the managers] can’t help it either,” says Bouchard.

These workers have been informed that “it is under the jurisdiction of the Treasury and that they cannot give a compensatory amount, even if they know and understand the problem of the price of gas”, she said.

The FIQ also points out that the retention and recruitment of nurses and care workers is already difficult without this additional obstacle.

A petition has also been launched to support the cause, and it is listed on the National Assembly website. On Monday, the petition had nearly 3,000 names. The persons concerned must sign it before September 8th.

The other unions involved, also campaigning for compensation, are the Quebec Union of Service Employees (SQEES), affiliated with the FTQ, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), affiliated with the FTQ, the Alliance du professional and technical health and social services personnel (APTS), the Federation of Health and Social Services (FSSS) affiliated with the CSN, the Federation of Professionals (FP) affiliated with the CSN, the CSQ and the Syndicat des Quebec government professionals (SPGQ).

Last week, rural and suburban mail carriers who work for Canada Post and who must use their personal vehicles to deliver mail demanded similar compensation due to rising gas prices.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 13, 2022.

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