MONTREAL—After months of whispers and rumour, the cuts at the McGill University Health Centre have begun in the most unlikely of places: frontline nurses.

Last December, the hospital network was warned that it was facing a projected deficit of $115-million. As a result, $50-million would need to be cut from its budget.

Despite everything that has been said about nursing shortages, the cuts came as a surprise and shock to many when nurses were the first group to be told they'd be facing cuts. As a result, some are questioning the wisdom of management at the MUHC.

Amanda Hugman and Daniel-Martin Leduc are young MUHC nurses studying to further their education.

“Usually people tell you to go into nursing because there's so much job security,” said Hugman.

Her career hit a red light this week when she was told her job at the Montreal General Hospital's trauma care ward will soon be gone.

“I was devastated. I only pulled myself together maybe last night or this morning,” said the laid-off trauma nurse.

Hugman's not alone.

On Monday, nine nurses, a quarter of nurses working in the General's recovering trauma care unit on the 12th floor were told they'll be losing their jobs.


Leduc says the cuts come when many nurses and staff already question the hospital's “Best care for life,” slogan.

“There's a slippery slope there. We will have to prioritize the care that we will provide,” said Leduc.

The union representing nurses at the MUHC says from what they've seen close to 40 nursing positions will be affected.

“As of today, what we have is 38 nurses will be touched,” said Lina Larocque, from the Federation des Infirmieres du Quebec.

Cuts have also been announced on the floor that houses gynecology, urology and non-cosmetic plastic surgery patients.

Laroque doesn't believe the cuts will stop at 38 positions.

“They have never showed us the global plan, they have never wanted to give it to us or show it to us,” said Laroque.

That lack of transparency has been on the minds of many workers and even some doctors who've complained of mismanagement and a lack of consultation with staff over how to best cut without affecting patient care.

The MUHC admits it needs to improve communication with staff.

“Within the next two weeks there'll be intensive period of time of communications with a large number of groups of individuals,” said Ann Lynch, the director-general of clinical operations.

Lynch says in all, 287 measures have been identified to cut $50 million in spending. Management will share the pain.

“There are management positions that are going to be cut in this plan,” she continued.

Some of the affected nurses in trauma will begin receiving official notices next week. While some may find work in other areas of the MUHC, they wonder how a hospital that is one of the city's main trauma centres, can heal from such deep cuts.