The number of sick days for mental health has exploded

News 11 July, 2017
  • Photo archives, Pierre Vidricaire
    The absences of employees for psychological cause are on the increase everywhere in the health network of the province. Many believe that the impact of the reform of 2015 are in large part responsible, because they have led to great upheavals.

    Héloïse Archambault

    Tuesday, 11 July 2017 06:30

    Tuesday, 11 July 2017 06:30

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    >The number of employees of the health network in stop disease for psychological problems is on a strong growth over the past few years. A balance sheet “devastating” that many people attribute to the reform Card.

    “It is devastating, reacts Régine Laurent, president of the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), a union of nurses. The reform of Mr. Barrette makes our world sick. “

    “You can’t imagine what it’s like to live,” says anonymously a social worker currently off work. It is all about the pills, the whole gang. If you want to continue, we do not have the choice. “

    “Cobblers badly shod “

    In fact, the number of employees on sick leave for health problems psychological is growing everywhere in the network, show the data obtained by The Newspaper through the Law of access to information.

    “We are shoemakers, poorly shod “, said Jeff Begley, president of the union of the Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux (FSSS-CSN).

    At the Centre of integrated health and social services (CISSS) Montérégie-Est, the number of cases opened has increased 55 % in the past five years. The CISSS de l’estrie and the McGill university health Centre (MUHC) are also marked increases of 47 % and 35 %.

    Of course, the personal problems influence the mental health of employees. However, everyone in the network who have spoken in the Journal have emphasized that consolidation of the reform of ministerial offices in 2015 have created a major upheaval.

    Great stress

    Work overload, uncertainty, cutbacks : many employees, including executives, have been impacted.

    “For us, it is a problem serious caused by major transformations in the past three or four years,” says Richard Fahey, director of human resources at the MUHC. We take it seriously. “

    Moreover, the directions of CISSS take measures to counter the problem.

    At the Sainte-Justine hospital, the management has written to the Newspaper that the personal reasons were ” primarily the first cause of disability “, and that it was difficult to make the connection with the work.

    “They [network administrators] are disconnected from the ground, reacts to Mr. Begley. If you want to make sure that it does not improve, it is the perfect answer. It doesn’t look great. “

    “Fall in combat “

    According to a professor of human resources at the University of Quebec in Montreal, the philosophy of current management is ” bad “.

    “The idea that we must do more with less, it is catastrophic, because it creates competition between people,” said Angelo Dos Santos Soares. The reform, it pushes the nail a little more. It is like the cherry on the sundae. “

    “We ask them to go faster and faster and it calls into question their expertise. Some escape, others fall in battle, ” said Ms. Laurent.

    Note that the durations of absences, are highly variable (from a few weeks to over a year). Moreover, these periods of sick leave are costly for the network. At the MUHC, the insurance bill-pay, and returns to the progressive has reached $ 5.5 million last year. However, several directions of CISSS were not able to provide accurate data.


    A situation that is taken seriously

    Directions of the health network are concerned about the rise in mental health problems, and want to focus on prevention to reduce absences.

    “This is a phenomenon that we are concerned with, we do not hide it,” admits Sylvain Boisvert, head of service management, and promotion of the health and safety at work for the CISSS de la Montérégie-Est. It is a local phenomenon, but it is felt in the whole of Quebec. “


    Mr. Boisvert points out that the same phenomenon had been observed after the reform of the network, in 2004. Recently, management has implemented a new promotion policy.

    “We must find a way to put in place a project to allow our employees to have favourable conditions of work “, said Mr. Boisvert.

    “We want to empower the managers so that they become aware of situations,” he said.

    The McGill university Health Centre (MUHC), a policy of “respect and civility” has been put in place in 2015, with the objective of establishing a working climate that is more human and more respectful.

    “We see that the situation starts to bear fruit,” says Richard Fahey, director of human resources at the MUHC.

    A move, two plans of a balanced budget, a reform of the network : the employees of the MUHC has undergone a lot of changes the past few years.

    “Mergers, it is the uncertainty in the system,” said Mr. Fahey. With the transformation, the people work very hard. “


    According to a professor of human resources at UQAM, the management needs to be reviewed.

    “The problem is not the individual, it is the organization of work. To reverse these figures, it is necessary to make primary prevention, think Angelo Dos Santos Soares.

    “We need to rethink and change the way they manage people. We are going in a direction of dismantling the system, people will not be able to take, ” he says.


    “It’s going to super bad “, says an employee

    Harassment, work overload, lack of listening : a nurse in a major depression denounces the conditions of work since the reform in the network.

    “It is awful with the reform of Dr. Barrette,” he said under cover of anonymity for fear of reprisals from her employer.

    “It’s going to super bad. The managers are just looking to cut always at a minimum, adds the one who works in the network for more than 30 years. They all think that they are going to reinvent the wheel. But, a patient remains a patient. “

    Because of the work

    More employees of the health network go to leave from a mental illness for the past few years, show data compiled by The Newspaper.

    According to many, the reform of 2015 has had the effect of degrading the working conditions.

    In the fifties, this male nurse in a hospital centre, the Montreal region is on sick leave for major depression since last year. He is convinced, moreover, that his psychological problems are caused by his work.

    “I used to be disparage by my part and I was already on the ground. It wants me disgust for you that I go away. ”

    Antidepressants, nightmares, therapies : the man is trying somehow to regain his health. Since its forced shutdown, physical health problems were added, and he has no idea when he will be able to return to work.

    “I am a positive leader, he says. And I love my job. ”

    However, he notes that the atmosphere demoralised is widespread in the network.

    No time to heal

    “We can’t see the end, we do not believe in the reform. Everything goes even faster, it adds to the paperwork all the time. We don’t have the time to give the quality care that it should be “, he laments.


    Employees at the end of the roll

    Dozens of employees of the health network to stop working for psychological problems have responded to the call to the testimonies of the Log on Facebook, in the last days. Most have reported a case of work overload, a lack of recognition and general exhaustion. To avoid that they are victims of retaliation from their employer, The Newspaper was their identity. Here are some answers :

    A lot of volunteer work

    “The doctor told me that if I had another job, I would never have fallen into disease. I have a job too demanding. We live in crisis situations, there are big decisions to take, it is always pressed, so we end up at hours that do not have common sense and you can never take back the overtime. “

    “We don’t put labels on cans of tomato. In the last year and a half, this is worse. The deadlines are tight, we have less resources. Almost the entire team is part of disease. Even passionate, people go. “– Speaker social for more than 10 years

    Victims of blackmail

    “It is with much humility that I found myself in a situation where I realized that I had hit my limit, both physical and psychological. For the first time in my life, I’m on antidepressants. […] I would have never thought that this can affect me to such a point. Not that my life is difficult, because my private life is stable and balanced. My source of anxiety was the hospital and its management. Many elements that led me to burnout. “

    “I don’t see me treating it like a number until the end of my career. When you have a professional consciousness, it is hard to say no. If you do not stay overtime, you put your team in the shit. They play on this guilt-there, it is blackmail. “A nurse of 26 years, in the Montreal area

    “Hell” since the reformation

    “Since the reform, it is worse. People no longer have the taste of work, there is more human contact. This is an overload of work, people leave and are not replaced. “

    “I have lived a radical change of team. We do not look at, it plays with our schedules. The atmosphere is very poor. They bring back people, it is hell. “– Psycho-educator in mental health for 15 years, la Mauricie


    A widespread increase in

    Through the Law of access to information, The Newspaper has compiled the records of leave due to mental health of employees of hospitals and integrated centres for health and social services of Quebec (CISSS) for the past five years. Result : a general increase is observed. Noted that several of the CISSS have refused to respond to the Journal.


    Reasons for the sick leave psychological

    • Reform of the network
    • Workload increase
    • Shortage of labour
    • Increased customer
    • New projects (Optilab)


    Open records of sick leave for psychological cause


    Employees :

    2012-2013: 742

    2016-2017: 1151

    • Increase of 55%

    Frames :

    2012-2013: 24

    2016-2017: 31

    • A 29% increase


    Employees :

    2012-2013: 1020

    2016-2017: 1497

    • Increase of 47%

    Frames :

    2012-2013: 14

    2016-2017: 32

    • Increase of 129%

    McGill university health Centre (MUHC)

    Employees :

    2014-2015: 417

    2016-2017: 563

    • Increase of 35%

    Frames :

    2014-2015: 7

    2016-2017: 21

    • Increase of 200%


    Employees :

    2012-2013: 1090

    2016-2017: 1460

    • Increase of 34%

    Frames :

    2012-2013: 18

    2016-2017: 29

    • Increase of 61%


    Employees :

    2012-2013: 751

    2016-2017: 951

    • Increase of 27%

    Frames :

    2012-2013: 26

    2016-2017: 29

    • 12% increase in

    CISSS of the North-of-the-island-of-Montreal

    Employees :

    2012-2013: 628

    2016-2017: 758

    • Increase of 21%

    Frames :

    2012-2013: 34

    2016-2017: 17

    • 50% decrease in


    Employees :

    2014-2015: 228

    2016-2017: 269

    • Increase of 18%

    Frames :

    2012-2013: 6

    2016-2017: 4

    • 33% reduction


    Employees :

    2012-2013: 954

    2016-2017: 1125

    • Increase of 18%

    Frames :

    2012-2013: 32

    2016-2017: 25

    • 22% decrease in


    Employees :

    2012-2013: 326

    2016-2017: 378

    • Increase of 16%

    Frames :

    2012-2013: 4

    2016-2017: 14

    • Increase of 250%

    Institute of cardiology of Montreal

    Employees :

    2012: 136

    2016: 157

    • Increase of 15%

    Frames :

    2012: 5

    2016: 6

    • 20% increase


    Employees :

    2013-2014: 581

    2015-2016: 655

    • Increase of 13%

    Frames :

    2015-2016: 18

    2016-2017: 11

    • A decrease of 39%


    Employees :

    2011-2012: 861

    2015-2016: 971

    • Increase of 13%

    Frames :

    2011-2012: 26

    2015-2016: 34

    • Increase of 31%

    North Shore

    2014-2015: 336

    2016-2017: 374

    • Increase of 11%

    Centre hospitalier de l’université de Montréal (CHUM)

    Employees :

    2012-2013: 358

    2016-2017: 393

    • Increase of 10%

    Managers :

    2012: 10

    2017: 10

    • 0%

    Editor’s NOTE : most of The CISSS compile the number of files opened during a year, but an employee can have multiple active records.