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As Quebec health care workers’ bonuses end, they predict an exodus to the private system

The pandemic isn’t really over, say those on the front lines – even though Quebec is set to scrap its last remaining COVID-19 rule by making masks optional in most places starting this Saturday.

But even as nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers are still busy treating patients with the virus and expect further waves later this year, some healthcare bonuses are also disappearing on Saturday, leaving them worried. of a new kind of staff shortage. .

“We are extremely concerned that from May 15, many people who stayed at work to access these incentives will start to report sick,” said Jessica Goldschleger of the CSN union.

This could create a ripple effect for those in need of care, says patient advocate Paul Brunet.

“It’s longer in the ER. It’s longer to get surgery,” he said.

Unions are trying to negotiate an extension of bonuses to keep their workers in work – at least the public side of work – they say.

“The biggest problem is our staff – we’re too understaffed, we need to bring people into the system,” Goldschleger said.

“At the moment, private services are much more attractive to staff, so people are moving out of the healthcare system and that’s a problem.”

The decision to end the bonuses has been a long time coming, the health ministry said.

“We have always said that these are temporary bonuses,” he said in a statement.

“This decision was taken in line with the current pandemic situation, which is improving.”

Brunet says he still wants to see a different distribution of public funds, given the context.

“[If] you give billions of dollars to Bombardier, don’t tell me that you can’t make an effort towards the employees,” he said.

“If you’re saying long-term care is important and seniors are important…if you’re not going to make those calls to show us that you really care about us, we’re not going to believe you.”

Workers who spoke to CTV News said the upshot of all of this is that they are preparing for what they expect to be a difficult summer, both for themselves and for the people who will be patients in the next months.

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