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Quebec health-care workers and members from the Quebec’s nurses union (FIQ) demonstrate to demand a new contract negotiation in Montreal on Sept. 6, 2023.Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press

A union representing about 80,000 nurses and other health care professionals in Quebec says its members have rejected a tentative agreement with the province.

The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec announced Saturday that 77 per cent of its members took part in an online vote held over the past three days, and 61 per cent of them voted against the deal.

“We heard you very well,” the FIQ said in a news release. “In the coming days and weeks, we will take stock with your union representatives and return to the negotiating table.”

FIQ president Julie Bouchard said in a statement that members are asking for better working conditions.

“They have lost confidence in the government and their managers,” Ms. Bouchard said. “We call on leaders to listen to them and bring to the table solutions that will truly improve the daily lives of our members.”

According to the union, the rejected deal included a 17.4-per-cent pay increase over five years and several other gains regarding working conditions. Quebec’s Treasury Board and the union announced the tentative agreement in March after 16 months of negotiations that included eight days of strike.

In comments on social media, many FIQ members mentioned voting against the deal because they want to see an end to compulsory travel between various institutions and mandatory overtime, and the establishment of clear patient-worker ratios.

Quebec saw intense labour action last fall. Hundreds of schools were shut down for weeks and health care procedures were delayed throughout the province as hundreds of thousands of public-sector workers held strikes. Most unions approved deals after the holidays, but the FIQ continued to negotiate.

Quebec Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel said the government takes note of the latest rejection. “We are going to meet with the union to understand what is wrong,” she said in a statement Saturday. “However, the context and our objectives will remain the same, particularly in terms of flexibility.”

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said on X, formerly Twitter, that “discussions will continue.”

“The fact remains that we must make the necessary changes to improve our health network and become an employer of choice,” he added.

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