The Quebec government is giving nurses more powers in an effort to speed up treatment for patients.

Quebec nurses' responsibilities will be expanded to include prescribing contraceptives, starting in January 2016.

Nurses will also be able to order lab tests, prescribe some medications and treat people with wounds and sexually transmitted infections.

The announcement was made Wednesday by Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, who said Quebecers would benefit from faster and more accessible care.

The federation of unions representing Quebec nurses (FIQ) said it's pleased with the new measures.

FIQ's treasurer, Roberto Bomba, said it's a good first step, but he added that nurses could take on even more responsibilities.

"The key to providing improved availability and accessibility of care has to do with an enlargement of the role of health-care professionals, especially nurses," Bomba said.

Some measures come into effect Oct. 22, while the remainder will begin Jan. 11, 2016.