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Quebec’s health minister says the creation of full-time jobs isn’t the only answer.

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Trying to find a solution to a labour shortage in nursing, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé thinks he has found the “recipe” that will make a difference, through decompartmentalization of professions and local management of schedules.

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Dubé mentioned the solutions Monday as he addressed participants at a meeting of the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec in Montreal.

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The effects of local scheduling where it has already been implemented varies from one place to another, he said, adding he wants to hear where things are going well and where things are going badly.

He said the creation of full-time jobs is not necessarily the only answer, contrary to what has been heard during negotiations for collective agreements.

“During the last negotiation, which was pretty long, there was really an approach to increase the full-time personnel, for all sorts of good reasons,” he said. “It gave results that are, I would say, OK, but not at the level of our expectations. … The situation, what people on the ground are asking for, is also part-time jobs, with the advantages and inconveniences. We heard that a lot. We heard the message very clearly, very very clearly.”

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Luc Mathieu, president of the nursing order, said much depends on how flexible the full-time job is, because it can be over four days, for example. “In some regions, they posted full-time jobs and no one applied.”

The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé (FIQ) added to its demands, which have just been submitted to renew its collective agreements: “that a full-time job be flexible to eight, nine or 10 days every two weeks, at the choice of the employee, working the same number of hours every two weeks or reducing the number of hours per two weeks, all while benefitting from the advantages of full-time status.”

The other way the minister is trying to solve problems caused by a nursing shortage is by decompartmentalizing health workers to reduce the workload of nurses.

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Delegates at the conference mentioned using administrative agents, but there aren’t always candidates for open positions.

“The decompartmentalization of professions, I believe in it a lot,” Dubé said. “We need to land the decompartmentalization of some professions to perpetuate certain advancements we had during the pandemic, particularly with vaccination.”

Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel will be in charge of that file.

Dubé said paramedics can be called on to do more.

OIIQ president Luc Mathieu said he does not object in principle. “It depends what we’re talking about. If we want a sharing of activities, we need to know which ones and ensure that paramedics are prepared to do that and how we can collaborate with them. We are certainly open to optimizing the contribution of everyone in the health-care team.”

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