QUEBEC CITY -- Health Minister Christian Dubé said he is "100% in agreement" with the partial closure of the emergency room in Senneterre, in the northwestern Quebec region of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, on Monday.

The health minister addressed the issue of the shortage of caregivers in a press scrum in Malartic, Que. on Friday afternoon.

He said that the reduction of service hours in Senneterre was a temporary solution, while 250 nurses were recruited in the region.

Dubé also encouraged all parties to "put some water in their wine" to try to find other innovative solutions.

"There is hope," he said, saying he sensed a determination in the region to get out of this "very serious" situation.

As of Monday, the Senneterre emergency room will only be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Outside of these hours, patients will have to go to Val-d'Or or Amos.

On Friday, Dubé reiterated his goal of recruiting some 4,000 nurses across the network through bonuses.

He acknowledged that money alone would not be enough to attract the workforce and that working conditions had to be improved.

The day before, the Parti Québécois had called for Dubé's personal intervention to ensure that all services in Senneterre were maintained.

Its parliamentary leader, Joël Arseneau, argued that the reduction in services endangered the health and safety of the population, in addition to further clogging other emergency rooms in the region.

"It's applicable as of Monday," said Dubé on Friday. "I agree 100% with the solution that is there, but I will ask the teams to continue working to find solutions."

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Oct. 15, 2021.