The annual report of the Québec Ombudsman, tabled on September 21, 2023, confirms what we already knew: the care in the Québec public health network is continuing to deteriorate. This deterioration is due to the work overload, combined with the lack of available staff to do the work. However, the labour shortage, currently hitting the entire province, cannot explain this situation by itself. The current staff shortage in the health network is mainly explained by several decades of political choices that have led to an exodus of staff and loss of expertise.
Poor working conditions, caused by successive reforms and budget cuts, have pushed healthcare professionals to leave the public network to find more decent jobs. Those who remain are forced to prioritize the more urgent and crucial interventions which further increases disinterest in jobs in the public network.
In her report, the Ombudsman also pointed out the many cases in CHSLDs where the high use of independent labour undermines the coordination of care and contributes to its dehumanization. The report shows that agency workers, who do not know the users they care for well enough, have a harder time offering personalized care. Treatment plans are misunderstood, not adhered to and sometimes even ignored.
For the FIQ, this report confirms a number of observations that have been denounced for many years. In a context where the Ministry of Health and Social Services predicts a shortfall of almost 12,000 nurses in the network over the next four years, it is more than necessary to improve working conditions to make jobs more attractive. Moreover, it is essential to quickly implement safe healthcare professional-to-patient ratios to guarantee quality care for the population. The government must open its eyes before the HSSN reaches a point of no return!