Quebec has recruited just over 1,000 nurses to work full time in the public health system after announcing bonuses to address chronic staffing shortages, the province’s health minister said Thursday.
Christian Dubé said 1,007 nurses have signed on so far and the government is also in talks with about 1,900 other nurses to see if they will take on a full-time work load.
“I am extremely encouraged and I have to tell you it’s just the beginning,” he told reporters in Quebec City.
Last month, Premier François Legault announced one-time financial incentives ranging from $12,000 to $18,000 amid an urgent lack of nurses in the public system. He described it as a “mini revolution” following months of pandemic-induced stresses that have contributed to a shortage of 4,300 nurses in the province.
Dubé said the number of nurses signing on to work full time is still rising, and that it will help bring reprieve to those who have been on the front lines for months.
“What I’m telling the network is that reinforcements are coming,” he said.
While the bonuses have been welcomed by unions and nurses, the province’s plan has been criticized for not addressing the issue of mandatory overtime — which has long been a sticking point in the field.
Legault, for his part, has said the is to offer a better work-life balance and improve working conditions too, he added, but in order to do that the province first has to bolster staffing.
Firm deadline for unvaccinated workers
Quebec’s health minister said he is standing firm on the deadline for unvaccinated health workers despite concerns about a break in services voiced by the opposition and unions.
Dubé is not budging on the looming deadline for the inoculation mandate set out by the province. There will also be no exemptions for religious reasons, he added.
“I will be very, very clear: we are firm on Oct. 15,” he said.
The province is working on a contingency plan and the details will be unveiled next week, Dubé said.
—with files from The Canadian Press
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