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.
“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).
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.
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.
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.