Believing that the entry into force of the compulsory vaccination of health workers on October 15 would have endangered the network, the Minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, postponed the deadline to November 15. A decision welcomed by the unions.
Posted on October 13, 2021 at 11:05 am
Updated at 10:40 p.m.
“If we continue like this, we will run into a wall,” said Mr. Dubé at a press conference on Wednesday.
Currently, 22,000 healthcare workers are not adequately immunized. Suspending these employees as of Friday represented a risk “too high” for the minister. “It would be irresponsible to play with the health of Quebecers”, he declared, adding to have the responsibility to “protect the network”.
Over the past few days, Minister Dubé has asked the CEOs of all health establishments to analyze “all the solutions” to minimize the impact of the suspension of thousands of workers refusing to comply with the obligation to do so. vaccinate. But two days before the deadline of October 15, “the best solution is to postpone the application of the decree for a month,” says Mr. Dubé.
En additionnant les travailleurs non vaccinés au personnel déjà manquant, « on se retrouve à ajouter une pression beaucoup trop forte sur le réseau et sur le personnel déjà vacciné », a expliqué le ministre. Et même s’il avait autorisé les travailleurs ayant reçu une dose de vaccin à travailler après le 15 octobre, le déficit de travailleurs aurait tout de même été de 14 000 sur les 330 000 du réseau.
Plus de 600 lits fermés
Les enjeux étaient de taille. Ainsi, la Dre Lucie Opatrny, sous-ministre adjointe à la Direction générale des affaires universitaires, médicales, infirmières et pharmaceutiques, affirme que si Québec avait maintenu sa date butoir, 600 lits de courte durée dans les hôpitaux auraient dû être fermés, ainsi que 35 salles d’opération. Déjà, 80 salles d’opération sur les 470 de la province sont fermées, note la Dre Opatrny. Et environ 150 000 Québécois patientent sur des listes d’attente.
La Dre Opatrny ajoute que 35 % des CHSLD auraient dû réduire leurs services de façon importante. Cette donnée a « beaucoup fait réfléchir » M. Dubé.
Vous savez comment on a souffert dans ces milieux [les CHSLD] at the first wave. I couldn’t find myself looking at myself in the mirror tomorrow morning and taking that kind of risk there in the CHSLDs.
Christian Dubé, Minister of Health and Social Services
Minister Christian Dubé recognizes “that this decision can seem very frustrating for health workers who have already been vaccinated. And for network users who want a safe environment ”. But all the scenarios studied to maintain the deadline “were too heavy for our network”.
By pushing back the deadline, Mr. Dubé wants “to give the unvaccinated one last extra time to get vaccinated”. He points out that since the end of August, the vaccination rate for healthcare workers has increased by 5.5% and now stands at 96%. And he is optimistic that this rate will increase further by November 15.
He believes that “the ban on the practice of professional orders that we have recently received will make the non-vaccinated reflect.” To increase the pressure on unvaccinated workers, some bonuses will now only be paid to them if they are double vaccinated within the next 30 days.
Finally, the minister wants to speed up the hiring of new workers, who will have to be doubly vaccinated.
Minister Dubé explains that if he had stayed the course, several establishments should have turned to “compulsory overtime” (TSO) to maintain their activities. And Mr. Dubé says he wants to abolish the TSO. “We want a culture change in the network. As a manager, I have to add staff to the network which is at the end of its rope. Not subtract from it, ”he said.
The decision to be taken, according to the unions
François Legault defended the choice of postponement. “I think that when you look at the balance of inconvenience, it was the responsible decision to take,” he said during a brief scrum in Quebec. The Legault government has repeatedly ruled out in recent days any possibility of postponing the deadline, as requested by the Parti Québécois and five health unions last week. Again Tuesday, the Minister of Health maintained the hard line.
President of the FSQ-CSQ, Claire Montour believes that Quebec “simply had no other choice” and that the Minister’s decision is “responsible”.
Christian Dubé seems to have listened to the message launched by our organizations.
Claire Montour, president of the FSQ-CSQ
The story is similar on the side of the Interprofessional Health Federation of Quebec (FIQ). “All the establishments already apply contingency plans in the field and it is our members who assume the overload of work, constrained by compulsory overtime. We are avoiding chaos in the short term, but we are not out of the woods, ”said Vice-President Isabelle Groulx.
“It was the right thing to do,” said the president of the FSSS-CSN, Jeff Begley. According to him, the government delayed too long by issuing its decree on September 24. “He had to get it out as soon as possible after the parliamentary committee [26 août] so that people know what to expect, ”he adds.
With the collaboration of Tommy Chouinard, Press
Reactions in Quebec
We have all lost collectively from this failure of Minister Dubé. The only ones who won are the anti-vaccines. […] One week before the entry into force, the professional orders still lacked information on the decree. It shows the fact that it was not done in collaboration with professional orders and unions.
Marie Montpetit, Health Critic, Quebec Liberal Party
By forcing the vaccination of nursing staff in the health network without providing for a contingency plan, Minister Dubé threw the dice and he lost his bet. It is an admission of failure for the government to wait until the very last minute before moving back on its own deadline.
Vincent Marissal, health spokesperson, Québec solidaire
The deadline was coming far too quickly; the breakdown of services, already too numerous, promised to multiply in the network. Together, we have called for time to reorganize services, and the judicious use of screening tests, rather than using the hard line, especially as the vaccination rate continues to rise.
Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, leader of the Parti Québécois
By announcing that he is postponing for a month his very bad decision to suspend unpaid health workers without pay, Minister Dubé is proving that he is no longer the man for the job. The Quebec health system has been ineffective for a very long time. It is weakened by the health crisis. To think that suspending thousands of workers who, let us remember, were tested three times a week, would improve things is preposterous.
Éric Duhaime, leader of the Conservative Party of Quebec
Read Patrick Lagacé’s column: “The antivax have won”