Quebec nurses reporting themselves for lax care standards amid labour crisis
Stress, forced overtime and low morale are among the reasons some Quebec nurses are telling their own professional order that they cannot meet care standards. It’s an alarming trend, according to the Quebec Order of Nurses, that underscores a crisis for its members.
President Lucie Tremblay said her organization, which represents nearly 75,000 health care workers, has been flooded by calls, emails and social media posts from nurses and the public demanding measures to improve working conditions, and ultimately the level of care patients receive.
“(Nurses) are caught between a rock and a hard place,” Tremblay told CTV Montreal on Monday. “They are torn between their priorities and not being able to meet professional standards.”
The Quebec Order of Nurses will meet with Health Minister Gaetan Barrette on Thursday to address its concerns. Barrette has already held meetings with another union representing nurses and medical staff, the Federation interprofessionelle de la sante, to discuss a pilot project in several hospitals and long-term care facilities to improve working conditions.
Meanwhile, a tearful photo of one nurse who claimed to be caring for more than 70 people at a long-term care facility in Sherbrooke, Que., has become a rallying point for many nurses in the province after it was shared more than 55,000 times on Facebook.
“My health system is sick and dying,” Emilie Ricard wrote in a post accompanying the photo last month. “I don't want to see a member of my family under these conditions.”
Ricard’s concern about the future of nursing in Quebec is not unfounded, according to figures from the Quebec Order of Nurses. The group estimates some 1,200 nursing students in the province have been unable to find internships because nurses no longer have the capacity to offer training.
The situation has made it awkward for some doctors in the province to accept pay increases. At least 250 have signed an open letter asking the province to backtrack on plans to sweeten their pay.
Premier Philippe Couillard recently inked a deal with the province’s 10,000 specialist doctors that would see their annual remuneration rise to $5.4 billion a year in 2023 from the current $4.7 billion.
“We see what the nurses are going through, and we are ashamed that we are getting pay hikes when they are getting poorer and poorer work conditions,” said Medecins Quebecois pour le regime public President Dr. Isabelle Leblanc. “It’s the first time we have so many doctors that are not even members calling us, writing to us, saying this is just awful.”
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Denise Roberts and files from The Canadian Press