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Quebec recruits 1,000 nurses to work full time amid urgent labour shortage

Click to play video: 'Calls grow for Quebec to push back mandatory vaccine deadline for health workers' Calls grow for Quebec to push back mandatory vaccine deadline for health workers
As the Oct. 15 deadline looms for health-care workers in Quebec to be vaccinated, some politicians and unions are asking the provincial government for more time. Global’s Gloria Henriquez explains – Oct 6, 2021

Quebec has recruited just over 1,000 nurses to work full time in the public health system after announcing bonuses to address chronic staffing shortages, the province’s health minister said Thursday.

Christian Dubé said 1,007 nurses have signed on so far and the government is also in talks with about 1,900 other nurses to see if they will take on a full-time work load.

“I am extremely encouraged and I have to tell you it’s just the beginning,” he told reporters in Quebec City.

Last month, Premier François Legault announced one-time financial incentives ranging from $12,000 to $18,000 amid an urgent lack of nurses in the public system. He described it as a “mini revolution” following months of pandemic-induced stresses that have contributed to a shortage of 4,300 nurses in the province.

READ MORE: Nurses pan Quebec’s bonus offer, say real issue is mandatory overtime

Dubé said the number of nurses signing on to work full time is still rising, and that it will help bring reprieve to those who have been on the front lines for months.

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“What I’m telling the network is that reinforcements are coming,” he said.

While the bonuses have been welcomed by unions and nurses, the province’s plan has been criticized for not addressing the issue of mandatory overtime — which has long been a sticking point in the field.

Legault, for his part, has said the is to offer a better work-life balance and improve working conditions too, he added, but in order to do that the province first has to bolster staffing.

Firm deadline for unvaccinated workers

Quebec’s health minister said he is standing firm on the deadline for unvaccinated health workers despite concerns about a break in services voiced by the opposition and unions.

Dubé is not budging on the looming deadline for the inoculation mandate set out by the province. There will also be no exemptions for religious reasons, he added.

“I will be very, very clear: we are firm on Oct. 15,” he said.

Read more: Quebec stands by COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health workers amid fears of staffing shortages

 

The province is working on a contingency plan and the details will be unveiled next week, Dubé said.

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About 25,000 health workers in the province are still not fully vaccinated, he said. Of them, he said about 13,000 have not received a single dose of vaccine.

Dubé stressed there’s still a week to go, but acknowledged that while the numbers of vaccinated workers were rising every day, they weren’t rising fast enough.

“Just yesterday we vaccinated 300 people with a first dose in the health network,” Dubé said. “I think we can go much faster — because, if we were more in the range of 500, 600, 700, well, by Oct. 15, we would have more with at least a first dose.”

with files from The Canadian Press

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