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Coronavirus: Quebec’s nurses union reach workplace safety agreement for duration of pandemic

Click to play video 'Quebec COVID-19 cases soar past 4,000 as medical equipment shortage looms' Quebec COVID-19 cases soar past 4,000 as medical equipment shortage looms
The fight against Covid-19 continues in Quebec, with healthcare workers working around the clock to help the sick. As the numbers of positive cases continues to grow, the amount of protective masks and gowns are dwindling at an alarming rate. Global's Raquel Fletcher explains.

The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ) announced late Monday night that it has reached a six-month agreement with the Quebec government to ensure workplace safety during the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on its website, the union explained the agreement “recognizes the exceptional contribution of health-care professionals in this time of crisis.”

READ MORE: Quebec’s health-care system ready as coronavirus deaths rise to 25, premier says

Standards concerning the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, scrubs and gloves, are laid out in the agreement, a measure the union said it is “delighted” by.

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Under the agreement, a pay premium must now be paid to workers directly treating those diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

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The agreement also specifies that pregnant women will no longer work in health-care settings, and immunocompromised workers and those over the age of 70 who cannot be reassigned to non-front-line roles will also be removed from their duties but continue to be paid as if they are at work.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Montreal public health releases COVID-19 numbers, breaks down cases by region

The temporary agreement covers the next six months, but the FIQ said it may be extended depending on how long the COVID-19 pandemic lasts.

The FIQ represents over 75,000 nurses, nurse practitioners and other medical professionals in Quebec. The union said it will return to the negotiating table “in the coming hours” on a broader agreement on additional stress- and risk-related compensation for all health-care workers during the crisis.

— With files from the Canadian Press’ French-language service