Despite recent reports to the contrary, Quebec still is facing an extreme nursing shortage, according to nurses in Quebec.
A recent study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information claims that the nursing population in the province has grown so much it has outpaced overall population and labour market growth.
However, nurses are raising concern that the report has been affected by an increasing number of workers in administrative fields and not in hospitals where nurses are most needed. In fact, numerous hospitals across Quebec are delaying surgeries and other complex procedures precisely because there are not enough working nurses.
The Quebec Order of Nurses has been issuing more nursing licenses than it has in decades, at over 3,000 per year over the last two years.
Yet that rise in numbers is having little effect on the day-to-day operations of hospitals, argues Nathan Friedland, a nurse in a busy MUHC surgical ward. Friedland says that many nurses today are able to build entire careers outside of hospitals, ICUs and surgical wards – which are oftentimes the most challenging working environments for nurses.
“When one finally becomes a nurse, no one tells you where you have to work,” says Friedland in a recent letter to the Montreal Gazette, adding that less nurses are working in hospitals today. “Because of burnout, fatigue and good old stress, many nurses must call in sick from time to time, forcing managers to try and find someone to replace them. Most of the time, they are unsuccessful, and if it is that hospital’s policy not to use agency nurses to replace the sick call, the only alternative is to give more patients to each nurse.”
The Quebec Health Department estimates a shortage of approximately 4,000 nurses per year over the next three years. Extra labour pressures will be felt as Quebec continues to build and expand health care facilities. There are currently two mega-hospital construction projects underway in the city of Montreal alone.
Source: Montreal Gazette