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September 23, 2021 – Provincial government update on COVID-19

Here is an update on recent decisions and actions by the Québec government in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

A “mini revolution” for nurses

Québec Premier François Legault, joined by Health and Social Services Minister Christian Dubé and Treasury Board President Sonia Lebel, today announced a series of measures aimed at tackling the labour-shortage crisis in the health and social services system.

“The challenge we have is to reorganize work so as to offer more predictability, a better work / family life balance and a reasonable family life, and above all to stop asking nurses to do mandatory overtime,” Premier Legault said.

The following incentives were announced:

  • $15,000 bonuses for nurses working full-time in the health system;
  • $15,000 for nurses currently working part-time (40% of the workforce) who choose to work full-time;
  • $15,000  for nurses working in the private sector and retirees who return to full-time work in the public system;
  • $18,000 for nurses already working and $15,000 for those who return to work in the health system in one of five hard-hit regions (Outaouais, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Côte-Nord, Nord-du-Québec, and Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine);
  • Hiring of 3,000 administrative assistants to help nurses with paperwork; they will take up their duties in the spring of 2022.

The measures address nurses, auxiliary nurses, respiratory therapists, and perfusionists. Currently, only about 60% of nurses work full-time, and the government would like to increase that proportion to 75%.

The incentives will require a $1 billion investment by the Québec government and are being implemented immediately. Bonus payments will be spread over one year.

New management model

The financial incentives are being accompanied by measures designed to change the management culture in the public system. The administrative assistant positions will free nurses up so that they can more fully dedicate themselves to patients.

The government also intends to offer improved work schedules to personnel in the public system compared with those hired through private placement agencies.

The government hopes the measures announced today will have a direct impact in terms of reducing forced overtime and reliance on those private placement agencies.

Protests against health measures: special legislation tabled

The Legault government today tabled a bill to counter demonstrations against health measures.

Protesters will be banned from demonstrating within 50 metres of schools, daycare centres, health facilities, vaccination centres and testing clinics.

Anyone found to be in violation of the new rules will be liable to a fine of between $1,000 and $6,000. The amounts will be doubled, to between $2,000 and $12,000, in the case of protesters who threaten or intimidate someone entering or leaving the locations mentioned.

The legislation will be in force for as long as the state of health emergency persists.