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Quebec wants to allow nurse practitioners to see their own patients

WATCH: The CAQ government has gone ahead with plans to give nurse practitioners more responsibility. The health minister has tabled a bill that will give these so-called "super nurses" autonomy to see their own patients. As Global's Raquel Fletcher explains, that means Quebecers will soon be able to consult a nurse practitioner if a doctor is not available.

Quebecers will soon be able to consult a nurse practitioner if they are not able to see a family doctor.

Health Minister Danielle McCann tabled a bill Wednesday that will give so-called “super nurses” the autonomy to see their own patients.

READ MORE: Quebec’s College of Physicians says nurse practitioners should create their own guidelines

“Let’s talk about the first line — the first line, we need to increase the offer,” McCann said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

McCann said nurse practitioners are qualified to handle more than 80 per cent of cases in medical clinics. If her bill is adopted as is, it will allow them to diagnosis and treat common illnesses. They will also be able to follow a patient’s pregnancy through to term.

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“This means that if I’m doing the diagnosis, the patient will leave with the prescription, go home and he will come back when I have a follow-up to do,” explained Christine Laliberté, the president of the Quebec nurse practitioners’ association, the Association des infirmières praticiennes spécialisées du Québec (AIPSQ).

READ MORE: Alberta spends $3M for 30 nurse practitioners for remote, specialized areas

Should you need a doctor’s note, don’t worry — the government’s bill would change the language in Quebec law to make sure a nurses’ note also counts.

The government hopes these reforms will attract more nurse practitioners to the field. Their goal is 2,000 by 2025 on top of the approximately 9,000 family doctors currently in practice.

“This year 200 nurse practitioners are being trained, so they will come into new positions in the network in a few months,” McCann said.

McCann said doctors will lose the $30,000 they are paid on an annual basis to supervise nurse practitioners and she will reinvest that money in the healthcare system.

READ MORE: Miscommunication over Quebec City clinic costs lead to closure

Former Liberal health minister Gaétan Barrette said the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) should not get credit for this move because he was already working on it before his party lost power.

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“When you have that much money, and everything has been done before, and everything has been put in place and the only thing you need to do is press enter, look that’s an easy job,” Barrette said.

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