The Quebec government is primed to send 1,007 nurses to work full-time in the public sector after announcing emergency financial incentives to recruit health-care workers.
The announcement comes after the province said it would offer financial bonuses of up to $18,000 to nurses in an attempt to address the province's staffing shortage crisis.
Health Minister Christian Dubé said he feels encouraged by the numbers despite still falling short of his goal of recruiting 4,000 full-time employees.
"I think this is a very good sign," he said. "This change of culture and mobility and these things that we have been asked by the nurses to change, they're happening right now."
Nurses throughout the province have organized demonstrations to protest forced overtime and their working conditions as many have suffered burnout during the pandemic.
Premier François Legault said costs for the emergency plan will amount to nearly $1 billion.
So far, 231 nurses have left the private sector to join the public network, Dubé said, and 1,900 candidates are currently in negotiations. Fifty-six former health-workers have also come out of retirement.
"Reinforcements are coming," Dubé said.
No vaccination exemptions
Dubé says the province will remain firm on enforcing mandatory vaccinations for all health-workers as of Oct. 15 at the risk of losing even more employees in both the private and public networks.
As of Oct. 6, 2,500 health-care workers were not fully vaccinated and may face sanctions if they don't get the jab in time. Out of those employees, 1,300 have not received their first dose.
No exemptions will be given to employees for religious reasons.
"I think we've been very clear... it's a question of health, not a question of religion," Dubé said.
"If there's one thing to say to the non-vaccinated people, particularly those in health, is if you want to avoid penalties, go get vaccinated."