MONTREAL -- Nurses working in Quebec's emergency rooms are warning about the dangerously low number of qualified personnel in the department.

It's a situation that is causing numerous service disruptions across the province, they argue.

In a press release published Wednesday, Quebec's association of emergency room nurses (AIIUQ) says it is "extremely concerned" about the lack of staff and its consequences "for institutions, care teams and patients."

The association notes the emergency room at Gatineau Hospital has been partially closed and operating at reduced capacity since June.

Services have also been affected at Suroît Hospital, the Coaticook Hospital, the Centre multiservices de santé et de services sociaux de Port-Cartier and Senneterre Hospital.

Emergency room nurses say they are also concerned that the situation will worsen in the coming weeks due to the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to AIIUQ, the shortage of specialized nurses is having six major impacts:

  1. the integration of unqualified personnel in emergency departments;
  2. an increase in nurse-patient ratios;
  3. a reduction in care activities;
  4. a reduction in continuing education for nurses;
  5. an increase in mandatory overtime;
  6. and an exodus of nurses to other sectors or private practice.

Nevertheless, the AIIUQ says it welcomes the government's "political will" to tackle the issue of labour shortages in the network.

However, it would like to see "concrete commitments" to reduce mandatory overtime and improve the difficult work-life balance of nurses.

The association says it believes the government's proposed one-time financial bonuses will only have a short-term effect on the problem and will not solve the greater issue.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 29, 2021.