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Local officials press CAQ government for action on Outaouais health care staffing

Local officials press CAQ government for action on Outaouais health care staffing

24 May 2024 à 12:30 pm

Local elected officials are urging the provincial government to immediately address the health care staffing crisis that’s anticipated to worsen in the upcoming months. Senior doctors with the regional health authority CISSSO have been sounding the alarm in recent weeks about the difficulty retaining staff in the region and the strain it puts on their ability to maintain services.

Earlier this week, Justine Mercier broke the news in Le Droit of CISSSO’s contingency plans for potential service breaches in surgery and medical imaging during the summer holiday period (June 17 to September 8). Initially, authorities would suspend certain services at the Papineau Hospital and rely on employees there voluntarily moving to the Hull and Gatineau Hospitals to fill the gaps.

In the worst case scenario, the operating rooms at the Maniwaki and Pontiac Hospitals would be closed and services would be concentrated in Hull. At a press conference Wednesday, CISSSO CEO Marc Bilodeau said that while they have a plan in place, they hope to not have to take the most drastic actions.

The news prompted strong reactions from both federal and provincial representatives.

During question period in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Pontiac MNA André Fortin, who is also the opposition critic for health care, called for “rapid and substantial actions” from the provincial government.

Health Minister Christian Dubé responded that he was very aware of the difficulties faced due to the proximity to Ontario and added he would be working with the treasury board to improve the situation for the region.

“We cannot accept the situation,” he said in French.

Pontiac MP Sophie Chatel sent a public letter to Dubé and Minister for the Outaouais Mathieu Lacombe calling on them to immediately address the “alarming situation.”

“Based on multiple reports and conversations with our regional health experts (detailed in this note), it is imperative that the government of Quebec take urgent measures to avoid a breakdown in health care services in our region,” she wrote. “Although health is a matter of provincial jurisdictions, I nevertheless want to express the urgency of the situation in Outaouais. In addition to all the issues regarding access to health care in Outaouais described in the appendix, the patients in Outaouais face a drastic reduction in surgical activities and long imaging access delays, exacerbated by the shortage of radiology technologists.”

She laid out several proposals to improve the situation, including increasing salaries and improving the cooperation between the Ontario and Quebec health systems.