The Quebec government is planning to build a nearly 600-bed "mega-hospital" in Gatineau, the province's health minister announced Wednesday.
The announcement follows an election promise by Coalition Avenir Québec to add 170 beds to the Outaouais region. After some "reorganization" — presumably the absorption of hundreds of existing beds in other hospitals — the government says the new hospital will result in an additional 240 beds for the Outaouais.
Describing the new facility as a "mega-hospital," Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said it would be affiliated with a university.
It's still not clear how much the hospital will cost, where it will be located or when construction will be completed. Dubé said he hopes to have those questions answered within a year to 18 months.
Union questions who will staff facility
Western Quebec's health-care system is currently facing a serious staff shortage, resulting in protests and temporary closures earlier this year.
Patrick Guay, president of the health-care union Syndicat des professionnels en soins de l'Outaouais, said he doesn't see how a new mega hospital can open without more staff.
Mathieu Lacombe, the minister responsible for the Outaouais, said the new facility will attract workers.
"We are going to have health-care environments that are going to be much more modern, that are going to be innovative and that are going to be better designed to meet the real needs of the community," he said in French during a virtual news conference.
With Ontario — and typically, better working conditions — right across the Ottawa River in Ontario, attracting and retaining doctors, nurses and other staff has been a long-standing issue in the western Quebec.