FIQ (Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec)

Immediate access to N95 masks for healthcare professionals

Immediate access to N95 masks for healthcare professionals

The upcoming announcement of another directive on N95 masks doesn’t give the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec – FIQ and FIQ | Secteur privé hope that their members will have increased protection when providing care to patients who are infected or suspected of being infected with COVID-19. “Still fighting for N95 masks? It makes no sense!” said Linda Lapointe, Vice-President of the Occupational Health and Safety Sector, after hearing the provincial public health director’s decision to lift the order restricting access to N95 masks and eye protection.

“Everyone now knows that the virus is transmitted by aerosol. The provincial public health director just confirmed we are right by lifting the order. We should have been thrilled! But instead, the minister of Health and Social Services already announced that the new directive would be based on the INSPQ’s recommendations. Replacing the order by a directive that is just as restrictive is like substituting two nickels for a dime. In the end, it is healthcare professionals who have to keep fighting for protection,” declared Linda Lapointe.

Healthcare professionals in the field are in the best position to say

In a statement made public last week, the FIQ and FIQP stated that they disagree with the recommendations made by the committee on nosocomial infections. The statement limits access to respiratory protection when there is an uncontrolled outbreak of COVID-19 and only after an exhaustive multidisciplinary assessment does it grant it. It even includes a proposed management support tool. Not only does it not take healthcare professionals’ judgement into account, but it adds another layer of bureaucracy. “It’s an aberration!” said Ms. Lapointe.

“And yet, it is so simple to apply the precautionary principle! Public health experts are not experts in occupational health and safety. That’s where they fall short and do damage. Situations in which the virus is being transmitted through the air require the best protection! I don’t understand how Quebec can be so far behind other provinces like Ontario and Manitoba, which responded to healthcare professionals’ requests for access to N95 masks, adopted the precautionary principle and listened to their professional judgement,” declared the Vice-President of the OHS Sector.

The Federations would like to remind everyone that Quebec’s healthcare professionals have had the highest rate of infection.