Quebec could put off Nov. 15 health network vaccination deadline: Legault

Quebec Premier François Legault says the deadline may be applied in certain settings, like ERs, but cannot be a blanket edict across all services in the province because of a continuing shortage of health workers.

Province still dealing with health staff shortages

Quebec Premier François Legault is indicating the province's new deadline for requiring all health-care workers may have to be flexible. (Radio-Canada)

Quebec Premier François Legault opened the door Monday to further postponing a Nov. 15 deadline for health workers to be fully vaccinated.

In a series of radio interviews, Legault said staff shortages could necessitate putting off the deadline again after an initial Oct. 15 date was pushed back by a month for the same reason.

The province had said workers not fully vaccinated by the October date would face suspension without pay, but Health Minister Christian Dubé backed down a few days before the deadline.

He said the health system was facing the loss of about unvaccinated 22,000 workers, which would have put too much strain on an already taxed system.

The latest update suggests 19,634 workers in the health sector are still not fully vaccinated and 13,714 haven't received a first dose.

Legault told Montreal's 98.5 FM that compulsory vaccination could be imposed in certain fields rather than across the entire network.

"We will surely be able to apply it in certain places,'' Legault said. "In emergency rooms, of course, it must be applied because there is very close contact with patients. There are regions where we will be able to apply it.''

Legault noted that only three per cent of nurses are unvaccinated but added that they are all needed, because the system is already short 4,000 nurses.

On QUB radio, Legault said much is riding on the province's recruitment plan to bring nurses back to the public system full time. The province is offering bonuses of up to $18,000 to bring as many as 4,000 nurses back to the network in the coming months.

In numbers released last week, Dubé said 1,756 people had accepted the offer, including 58 nurses coming out of retirement. Of the rest, 351 were shifting from private agencies and 1,347 were part-time workers who switched to full time work.


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