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Quebec nurses union calls for solution to overcrowding in emergency rooms

Quebec nurses issue warning call
Quebec nurses issue a warning call​.

Quebec’s nurses union, the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), is asking the government to pass a law that would set strict nurse-patient care ratios in emergency rooms across the province.

This comes after several almost two year-long pilot projects across the province studied the issue. The demand from the union comes just as they are set to begin contract negotiations with the government.

The FIQ, which represents 76,000 nurses, said part of the solution to the overcrowding in Quebec’s emergency rooms is to increase the number of nurses on staff. A higher ratio of nurses would allow nurses to work fewer overtime hours and be less exhausted, the FIQ said. They also added that it would lead to less absenteeism.

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FIQ spokesperson Denyse Joseph called the current overcrowding issue in Quebec emergency rooms inhumane for both the patients and health-care professionals.

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A spokesperson for Health Minister Danielle McCann said in a statement that they are sensitive to the workload of nurses and other health-care professionals, but there are “certain steps to be taken before discussing the ratio projects with the FIQ,” adding that negotiations are currently underway.

Sixteen pilot projects that ended in December were carried out in various emergency rooms, clinics and elder-care centres across Quebec.

McCann said she wanted to wait for the end of the projects to analyze their findings before drawing the necessary conclusions.

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FIQ president Nancy Bédard said that the effectiveness of these ratios has been demonstrated and that nurse-patient ratios need to be established.

“All of the projects have been successful. There is no more time to lose. The results are up, the findings are there, everything has been tabled,” Bédard said, adding she doesn’t understand why McCann is delaying the process.

Bédard said she is convinced that the implementation of a nurse-patient ratio would benefit the province’s health-care system and increase the quality of care to patients, which she said is most needed during the winter when hospitals experience the most overcrowding.

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–With files from The Canadian Press

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