February 20, 2018 7:17 pm
Updated: February 20, 2018 11:21 pm

Quebec nurses push for new law to limit nurse-to-patient ratios

WATCH: Working conditions, nurse-to patient ratios and wages were all on the table in the second meeting between the Quebec nurses’ union and the health minister. Global’s Raquel Fletcher reports.

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The second meeting between Quebec’s health minister and the nurses union did not start on a positive note.

If there’s money in the budget to give doctors a raise, the union said it wants to know why more can’t be allotted to fix a growing nursing shortage.

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READ MORE: Angry Quebec nurses push for lower patient ratios and less overtime

“There’s always money for doctors, she says, but what about the others who take care of patients?” said Nancy Bédard, president of Quebec’s nurses’ union, the Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ).

Bédard walked into her second meeting with the health minister with a clear message: “My people are fed up,” she said. “[And] patients don’t have the care they need.”

For weeks, Quebec nurses have been voicing concern about their own health — they say they are exhausted from forced overtime and being charged with more patients than they can look after.

They want solutions fast. They also want to see a law that will set out maximum nurse-to-patient ratios.

READ MORE: Quebec signs $2B deal with medical specialists

While opposition parties criticize the government for a costly agreement with medical specialists, the premier on Tuesday said the government actually saved money compared to the last deal. He added the government would now invest more elsewhere in the system.

“I think now is the time to put new resources towards quality of life at work, for nurses, but not only nurses. You have orderlies, as well as nursing aides,” Premier Philippe Couillard said at the National Assembly.

READ MORE: Quebec health minister called ‘arrogant,’ blamed by opposition for nurses’ exhaustion

Coming out of the meeting that lasted two hours, the health minister proposed a plan.

Gaetan Barrette agreed to work with the union on 16 pilot projects around the province that would put nurse-patient ratios in place by next month.

“We will meet again one week from now and then three weeks afterwards and then there will be a complete schedule for the 16 projects that will be implemented,” he said.

Bédard said it’s “a big step” on the part of the minister, but more nurses need to be hired to give overworked nurses a rest soon.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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