Quebec has more nurses than ever before, more private nurses

The number of nurses in Quebec has increased again over the past year, the Order of Nurses of Quebec confirmed Tuesday. The OIIQ also notes an increase in the number of nurses in the private sector.

According to the OIIQ’s just published annual statistics, 82,271 nurses were registered with the order on Mar. 31, 2022.

This represents a 1.5 per cent increase in the number of nurses employed over the previous year.

“We have never had so many in Quebec. For the past 10 years, it’s been increasing,” said the OIIQ’s president Luc Mathieu at its general meeting and convention.

However, many observers are talking about a “shortage” of nurses.

“We know that there are shortages in the network. But is there really a shortage, in terms of numbers? People in the profession say ‘we don’t think so.’ We need to optimize everyone’s contribution first,” Mathieu said.

IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR

The order also reported an increase in the private-sector nursing workforce since the start of the pandemic.

“Retention of the more than 63,000 nurses in the health and social services network remains an issue, even though those numbers are similar to the previous year. Thus, the trend that began at the beginning of the pandemic continues with an increase in the private sector workforce, without a massive departure from the public sector,” the report said.

The OIIQ specified that 2,400 nurses work mainly for an employment agency. This is an increase of about 19 per cent over the previous year.

“It is urgent to take measures that will ensure the retention of nurses already working and the next generation of nurses,” the order concluded.

MORE FULL-TIME NURSES

Also, more nurses are working full-time. The order even talks about an “unprecedented number” of full-time members, at 68.4 per cent, an increase of 4 per cent.

And for the first time, more than half of the nurses who entered the profession were working full time, at 51.1 per cent.

“In both cases, these are the largest increases in at least 20 years,” the order said.

These increases can be partly attributed to government decrees and incentives to deal with the health emergency,” the OIIQ said.

Faced with a shortage of health-care workers because of COVID-19, Quebec indeed offered a range of bonuses to nurses to encourage them to work full-time.

The OIIQ also points out that during the 2021-2022 fiscal year, it issued 3,565 permits to practice, which matches the average for the last 10 years.

Of these, 24 per cent, or 842 people, were graduates from outside Quebec.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in English on Nov. 22, 2022.

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