The head of a nurse’s union at the MUHC said conditions at the Glen superhospital are dire and will continue to deteriorate unless governmental budget cuts to healthcare are reversed.

At a press conference Wednesday held jointly by a union representing nurses and cardiorespiratory therapists and political party Coalition Avenir Quebec, union president Denyse Joseph said patients are unable to get proper care at the superhospital.

She said there are currently 200 vacant healthcare positions, with no plans to fill them, and a lack of staffing means equipment is being left unused.

Joseph blamed the conditions on the $120 million slashed from the MUHC budget since 2012 and said she plans to present Health Minister Gaetan Barrette with a petition containing 14,000 signatures calling on them to reverse the cuts.

"We're going to have patients, they're going to be put in double rooms or hallways of a hospital," she said. "It's putting patients at risk. In a hallway, you have nothing. In an emergency, you're lucky if you have somebody pass by you."

While patient care has suffered, Joseph said the hospital’s nurses are working in untenable conditions.

“They're cutting and cutting and cutting so I don’t have time to do the best care for these patients,” she said. “This affects the mental (health) and when they get home, they cry. They don’t want to come to work anymore because they’re overwhelmed. There’s a major increase in long term sick leave at the MUHC for personnel and most of them are related to mental healthcare.”

It's a problem that will only get worse as Quebec's healthcare system becomes further stressed by an aging population," said Joseph.

"You have more diagnosis, so you're more sick. Of course, when you come to the hospital, you're more sick so you need more care. At the same time, we're reducing the beds. There's less beds in the hospital and there's no beds in the community. We have to find a way so the patients that need acute care are seen in the MUHC."

CAQ MNA Nathalie Roy said that while the cuts to healthcare were originally introduced by the Parti Quebecois, the Liberals have done nothing to stop them. She acknowledged that while the MUHC serves all Quebecers, it is largely used by anglophones. She said her party wants to show that it values anglos ahead of next year’s provincial elections. 

“We started to look and say there's a lot of problem going on inside that hospital,” she said.

Joseph said those at the overcapacity ER waiting to be admitted, must - by ministry's orders- be transferred to a unit, whether there's a room or not.

“And we are not adding staff on that unit, so the patients are even more at risk because they could be left out in a hallway without being seen by the staff,” she said.

Health Minister Gaetan Barrette maintains those challenges are not linked to budget cuts, as the MUHC is properly financed.

Barrette said those who voice their discontent are a lobby group.

“Everybody understands what a lobby is, but again this great hospital, from a great university that is MUHC at McGill, is funded at the same level as CHUM. So there are a lot of people talking and playing politics as CAQ is doing today on an issue that is not on solid ground,” he said.

The CAQ denied it's playing politics.

“It's a beautiful hospital, a Quebec hospital and we have to take interest in what's going on. But the anglophone community, we were always interested in the anglophone community,” said Roy.