The Quebec government wants a “revolution” and to offer nurses what they deserve, which is a better life and work environment, Premier François Legault said Saturday.
Legault issued a Facebook post commenting on a one-time bonuses plan intended to lure thousands of nurses back to the public sector from private placement agencies and retirement. The plan is also meant to convince part-time nurses to switch to full-time work.
“Money won’t fix all the problems, but we think it will help us to curb the staff shortage in the short term,” Legault said. “We have a duty to succeed with everything you do for us. We owe you that.”
Quebec said on Sept. 23 the government is budgeting $1 billion to offer full-time nurses bonuses of up to $18,000 as it tries to prevent more of them from leaving the public health-care system and to entice those who have left to come back.
The plan, however, faced backlash from the largest Quebec nurses’ union, which demands the elimination of mandatory overtime. The government has proposed to reduce it.
Legault said the financial incentives were only one part of the plan, but were crucial to prevent further nurses from leaving the industry.
“I know what’s essential for you, it’s not to have more money, it’s the quality of life and work,” Legault said on Facebook, adding that the goal is also to eliminate mandatory overtime.
Quebec is struggling with a shortage of more than 4,000 nurses which could worsen as health-care workers face suspension without pay if they are not fully vaccinated by Oct.15.
Health Minister Christian Dubé said on Sept. 23 in a news conference along with Legault the incentives will only be available to nurses who are fully vaccinated.
He said around 7,700 health-care workers in the province who are in regular contact with patients have not yet received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine.