Quebec hospital violated two health and safety laws

Finding comes after nurses claimed they were overworked

Quebec hospital violated two health and safety laws

Quebec’s workplace safety board sided with workers who, in November, claimed they were overworked in the emergency room at a hospital in the Eastern Townships.

The Brome-Missisquoi-Perkins Hospital in Cowansville failed to ensure adequate staffing and proper management in its emergency room, according to CNESST.

"We really had warning signs — resignations, departures, many people on disability insurance," said Stéphanie Boulet, interim president of the Eastern Townships health-care professionals' union (SPSCE-FIQ), says in a CBC report.

"We also had heartbreaking messages from our members, who work in very difficult conditions, who said that they were not capable of providing safe care."

Recently, The Newfoundland and Labrador government announced it will recruit internationally educated registered nurses from India who can fill vacancies in the province.

A year after the complaint, CNNEST said that the regional health agency violated two occupational health and safety laws.

CIUSSS de l'Estrie-CHUS did not put in place measures to evaluate the risks associated with work overload and it also did not adopt any mitigation measures for its workers.

This month alone, there are 75 unfilled nursing shifts in the hospital's emergency room, according to the CBC report.

The union has proposed to reduce the ER's operating hours at night.

"We are really putting a team of workers on their knees to keep the services open, but we are not bringing in any help or new personnel who could give this team stability and some breathing room," Boulet said.

"I don't think we can get through the holiday season without bringing in concrete help with nurses at the emergency room level."

However, the hospital, “has a very specific need for manpower,” said Patricia Bourgault, the director of nursing services at the CIUSSS de l'Estrie-CHUS, according to CBC.

"This hospital has a very specific need for manpower," she said.

The hospital has added evening and night staff, and put in an extra worker during the day, said Bourgault.

The hospital is now working on reorganizing some services "to ensure that the staff has everything they need to ensure the quality of care,” she said.

However, the hospital is not considering SPSCE-FIQ’s request to reduce the emergency room's hours of operations, said Bourgault in the CBC report.

"We are working on other strategies. The population has a right to this emergency service and we will assure that it will remain in place."

Late in October, hundreds of nurses in NL called for better support from the provincial government, saying they have been overworked for the past year, and their safety is being put at risk.