Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette announced more than $23 million would be invested to add 350 beds to the private sector in the Montreal, Montérégie, Laval, Laurentides and Lanaudière areas.
The hope is that the beds will help relieve crowded emergency rooms.
“We’re putting those measures in place today because the flu season peak itself will happen within the next three weeks,” Barrette said. “The number 1 problem in our network is capacity.”
Many hospital emergency rooms in Montreal are already operating beyond capacity.
Wait times can be hours and even days long.
Barrette wants hospitals to continue working at full capacity until June 23.
“It’s a busy time of the year,” Harley Eisman, a doctor at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, said. “There is a higher admission rate than usual, which means there are longer waits for beds in the emergency department.”
Eisman estimates about 80 per cent of people who head to the emergency room could be dealt with somewhere else.
“We ask parents to use emergency services wisely,” Eisman said. “At least as far as the pediatric domain is concerned, clinics are well-equipped to deal with the viruses that are going on in the community.”