$18K bonuses for these in-demand professionals

The government is shelling out massive incentives to lure workers back

$18K bonuses for these in-demand professionals

Quebec Prime Minister François Legault announced on Thursday that their government will be providing nurses with up to $18,000 financial bonuses, in an attempt to lure back health workers and resolve the ongoing staffing crisis. Legault added that $15,000 will be given to full-time nurses and part-time nurses in the public system who will work full-time. Nurses who have left will also be provided $12,000 if they decide to come back.

Nurses in five regions, namely Outaouais, the Abitibi-Témiscamingue, the North Shore, the Nord-du-Québec and the Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, that have been hit harder by COVID-19 will receive a higher $18,000 bonus.

According to Legault, the financial bonuses seek to make the public system much more attractive to nurses. It will cost the government by up to $1 billion.

"Nurses have been taking care of us for a long time. It's our turn to take care of them," he said in a statement, describing the plan as "small revolution in managing the health network."

Read more: Quebec to retrain 20,000 workers following pandemic

Mass hiring of nurses, assistants

Meanwhile, the government will also be opening its doors to administrative assistants and nurses from other provinces, according to Legault. The premier said nurses outside of Quebec will also be recruited so training time can be accelerated, with Labour Minister Jean Boulet already working on the plan. The government will also be hiring 3,000 administrative workers to assist nurses with their paperwork, which Legault said takes up 30% of their time. The premier said the move will help lighten a nurse's load when it comes to administrative work.

"Nurses will be able to focus on doing the job they are trained for: treating patients," he added.

The financial bonuses and mass hiring come as yet more nurses leave their posts amid the pandemic, leaving the Quebec's healthcare system undermanned during the health crisis.

Read more: Government pulls nurses ad that union says is demeaning to women

The workers who left complained about toxic workplaces, which included forced overtime, according to a report from Global News. This attracted criticism to Legault's plan, which critics said does not really address the root cause as to why nurses were leaving in the first place.

"For us, it's quite clear, he missed the boat. We're extremely disappointed," Roberto Bomba told Global News. Bomba is the executive officer of Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec, which represents 80,000 healthcare workers in the province.

Quebec Liberal leader Dominique Anglade also criticised the plan for several reasons, saying the government was just waiting "until things get seriously bad" before acting.

"What's more, this plan does not truly address working conditions," she was quoted by CBC News as saying.

Health Minister Christian Dube, however, defended the plan and said it was only a short-term measure until a new collective agreement is implemented next year. The deal includes a one per cent salary hike, bonuses for night, evening, and weekend shifts, as well as the creation of 1,500 more full-time positions.

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