Dubé’s plan to rehire nurses is greeted coldly. But while the health network is completely bogged down, the minister not only wants to solve the manpower problem by the end of his mandate, but also to launch a project for the computerization of establishments.
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“I understand people being skeptical,” Christian Dubé tells me, seeing the rather negative comments expressed by nurses following his announcement. Basically, the minister may well promise bonuses of $ 12,000 to $ 18,000, exhausted workers first want guarantees that they will no longer be imposed mandatory overtime (OST).
The Health pilot is aware of this, but he must first convince pairs of arms to return to the fold. Monday, while he will bring together all the bosses of the CISSS and CIUSSS, he will ask them to give a date from which they can offer the best shifts to nurses in the network, rather than to private agencies. If he manages to get over 4,000 full-time nurses back, he can gradually turn the tide and eliminate OST. But it will probably take months.
Why did the government opt for bonuses? Because his options were limited by the framework of the recently concluded collective agreement. A change in salary, for example, would have required reopening the agreement, and could have jeopardized the content negotiated with difficulty in the last 18 months.
In government, we knew last August that Christian Dubé’s fall would be difficult. He was said to be worried about the state of general exhaustion in the network. This is why the minister insisted on allowing vacations to all, even though he knew that this would delay the catching up of surgeries and complicate the management of emergency rooms.
He slipped when he said publicly that he was surprised by the extent of the understaffing. Which was rather absurd. Today, he says instead that what he had not imagined is that when they return from their vacation, people “would quit two hours before going back to work”.
To give an idea of its mission, in addition to bringing back more than 4,000 nurses, it must also find 3,000 administrative agents, to prevent them from wasting 30% of their time filling out paperwork. You had to see the head of Sonia LeBel, her colleague at the Treasury, admit Thursday that the remuneration of these future resources was not yet planned. We understand that the threads will be attached as and when in the coming weeks.
In addition to the lack of personnel, it is the IT backwardness that gives the healthcare network an air of third world. This is why Christian Dubé will first present a bill to ensure he continues to have access to all the data of the establishments, which is currently only allowed him because of the health emergency. Then, he then wants to modernize the IT tools for the staff in each establishment. Set up a system that will allow the exchange of information between all, in real time. The minister wants to put all this in motion in the last year of the mandate, to demonstrate that he has delivered a real modernization of the network.
Hyperactive, he did not hesitate to replace his IT director because he did not share the same vision as him.
It is said that the Minister of Health has already presented François Legault with a third version of the strategy he is building. Of course, he must show vision and determination for Quebec to equip itself with an effective system. But the basis is first to stop imposing 16-hour shifts on nurses at the end of their rope.
The network is like a stuck vehicle. Dubé has to get him out of there. And time is running out.