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Quebec nurses threaten to quit due to extensive work hours during pandemic

Last Updated Jul 25, 2020 at 6:27 pm EDT

MONTREAL (CityNews) – Quebec nurses say they’re frustrated with Quebec Premier François Legault who has forced nurses to work weekends and overtime while he heads off on vacation.

“The number of nurses I’ve seen say I’m quitting if we have to work more than every other weekend then I am for sure quitting,” said president of Quebec’s Nurse Association, Natalie Stake-Doucet. “I mean is that what we want?”

Nurses are experiencing fatigue and say they cannot face a second wave without time off.

“We need to take care of ourselves and we need to be given the time to take of ourselves. Give us that time while things have settled even though it’s not completely over,” said Melanie Jade Boulerice of Nomadic Nurse Agency. “We have the moment to care for ourselves and when the second wave comes we’ll come back, and we’ll conquer even better.”

Nurses say they’re close to burning out and need concrete help in order to be able to face a possible second wave of COVID-19.

Over the last few months, the province has had a hard time finding full-time healthcare workers to join the frontlines — imposing a decree that ignores their collective agreements forcing many part-time nurses to work longer hours, more days and nights and weekends.

“Time and time again you are being forced to stay against your will because the schedules have not been made properly or they’ve scheduled the strict minimum, explained Stake-Doucet. “Then it becomes you feel like you are being used and abused and your rights mean nothing and you are basically not worth anything in the eyes of the organization and that makes it very difficult as an employee to trust your employer and to believe that they have your best interest at heart.”

Many nurses we reached out to voiced their frustration but declined to comment for fear of retribution and consequences with their employer, but many saying that if things do not change they will quit.

The government says it’s open to finding solutions, but has not responded with anything concrete as of yet.

A petition is currently circulating asking the Quebec Health Minister to launch an independent public inquiry into the local public health system stressing that this will be the only time nurses can come forward without repercussions.

“So it will be safe for us and most importantly the Quebec population will know what happened, and what not to do if a second wave was coming. We truly believe that we need to learn from all the experiences across the province of Quebec so we can do a better job next time,” said Yan Giroux of Quebec’s Health Interprofessional and Interdisciplinary Association.

“Instead of thinking about filling the shift tomorrow we have to start thinking where are we going to be in six months,” said Stake-Doucet. “In three months and for that we need a long term vision which we do not have right now.”