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Documents in Quebec History


Last revised:
23 August 2000

French Canadians and Jews

What of the Sick?
Bloc-notes, Le Devoir, Monday June 18, 1934, p. 1

Since last Saturday, the strike by the internes has spread to several Montreal hospitals. The hospital nurses were rightly inspired not to follow the example of those internes that went on strike. . The latter do not appear to have reflected upon the consequences of their action, as they ought to have done. A doctor is neither a labourer nor an artisan. He is not an employee in the ordinary sense. He is not a trade unionist. He has the care of human lives. When one has such a mission, can one be a striker? Is not his first duty toward his sick patient? Under the present circumstances, who suffers from this strike? The young foreign doctor that they would wish to exclude from the hospital? Not at all since he has remained at his post. The hospital? It will overcome its momentary embarrassment, even if the remaining doctors will have to work even more. The other hospitals to which the strike has spread? Likewise, they will overcome their difficulties. Those most affected by this strike are the sick and the injured that are not receiving the care they should be getting. Without having aimed directly at them, they are the ones that the strikers have most affected. Of course, that was not what the internes intended: but such is the grave result of their decision to leave their post. Did they not reflect on this point? Obviously not, otherwise their conscience would surely have told them that a doctor couldn’t abandon men and women who are suffering however valid their cause may be. Though their cause may appear to them to be excellent, one wonders whether the means taken were not measured to ruin it.

© 1999 for the translation, Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College