Suroît Hospital: Nurses' Actions Highlight the Seriousness of the Situation

Nurses at the Suroît Hospital in Quebec's Montérégie-West region say they can no longer guarantee safe patient care. The shortage of staff in the emergency room is particularly dramatic, they say. They explain that there is an occupancy rate in the Emergency Department of over 170 per cent, with only half of the necessary staff. Citing the danger to the public, some nurses refused to report for their shifts in the emergency room during the night of September 9-10.

"When health care professionals refuse to start their shifts, it is not on a whim, but because they fear for their own safety and especially that of their patients. The shortage of staff in the Emergency Department is more than glaring," said Vanessa Léger, acting president of the Union of Care Professionals of Montérégie-West.

Faced with the refusal of the management of the Integrated Health and Social Services Centre of the Montérégie-West and the Ministry of Health to ensure the safety of patients and staff, the union made an urgent appeal to the Administrative Labour Tribunal (TAT) to intervene so that measures are taken to ensure that care can be provided safely. The TAT refused to intervene, stating that it does not have the authority to do so under the Labour Code. However, nurses recall that the TAT intervened on April 8, ruling that nurses should be required to work mandatory overtime in emergencies or exceptional situations during their day without overtime pay.

"The court decided to do nothing. It can intervene against the union and its members, but not against an employer despite an urgent situation that threatens the health and safety of patients," said Vanessa Léger. The union is currently assessing all possible options for recourse.

The union points out that it has proposed several solutions, including the establishment of a joint committee to rectify the situation, incentives to retain and attract nurses, and the creation of positions adapted to the reality of the occupancy rate. The authorities are not listening.

"Care professionals have solutions. Concrete incentives must be put in place immediately to get out of this major crisis at the Suroît Hospital. In this regard, the Union of Care Professionals of Montérégie-West considers the situation extremely critical and is urgently calling for these incentives," wrote the president of the union.

(Quotations translated from original French by Workers' Forum.)

This article was published in

Number 61 - September 15, 2020

Article Link:
Suroît Hospital: Nurses' Actions Highlight the Seriousness of the Situation


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