OUTAOUAIS – With staff shortages plaguing the health system province-wide, Christian Dubé, Quebec’s Minister of Health and Social Services, announced on December 2 that an additional $12,000 lump sum bonus (per year, for two years) has been added to the pot in an attempt to attract nursing and cardiorespiratory care personnel to several remote regions in the province, including the Outaouais.
On September 23, Quebec Premier Francois Legault offered nurses working full-time in the public system a $15,000 one-time bonus and those working part-time $15,000 to take on full-time hours. In regions where labour shortages are most critical – including the Outaouais – $18,000 is given to nurses who take on full-time hours. Retired nurses or those who jumped ship to the private sector receive $12,000 to return to the public system full-time. In the five regions where the situation is critical, this bonus is increased to $15,000.
Now, an additional lump sum of $12,000 per year will be granted to employees who settle and work in the Outaouais for two years; either full-time, full-time with reduced hours or part-time. Therefore, a nurse or cardiorespiratory care employee who works full-time in the Outaouais could receive up to $30,000 for their first year and $12,000 for the second.
According to Dubé, the Outaouais was included in this measure because of its special status as a border region with Ontario. The aim of the bonuses are to make the Outaouais more competitive and to compete with wages offered in Ontario where work conditions are generally better and employees earn about $20,000 more annually for the same job.
Pontiac MNA Andre Fortin has long called for equalizing nurses salaries to those in Ontario and is happy to see nurses getting additional funds. However, he believes this attraction and retention method is short-sighted given that many nurses and their unions have denounced that a one-time payment will not convince nurses who have left to return, or part-time nurses to switch to full-time. He believes the answer to the problem is to put an end to mandatory overtime and to equalize salaries to those in Ontario.
The other targeted health regions are: Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Côte-Nord, Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Nord-du Québec, Nunavik, and Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James.
Accelerated training programs
On November 26, the government announced two new health programs: an accelerated program for nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses (14 months instead of 22), with the government providing $20,000 in bursaries and a training program for administrative agents supporting clinical sectors (8 weeks). Local training centers, like the Pontiac Continuing Education Center, are offering the programs.