MONTREAL -- Implementing and standardizing nurse-patient ratios is part of the solution to overcrowded emergency rooms, says a union that represents 76,000 nurses and other healthcare professionals in Quebec.

If the government had already implemented such measures, the Federation interprofessionnelles en soins (FIQ) believes the problems in emergency rooms would have already improved significantly.

When Gaetan Barrette was health minister, he launched 16 pilot-projects to validate the idea to establish nurse-patient ratios in healthcare institutions. 

The ratios would vary depending on the unit and type of nursing care required.

Health Minister Danielle McCann had said she wanted to wait for all the pilot-projects to wrap-up so she could analyze the results and make a decision on where to go next.

The last of the 16 projects ended in December, 2019, and FIQ’s president thinks the government needs to take immediate action. 

Nancy Bedard says the effectiveness of ratios has already been demonstrated. 

When nurse-patient ratios are implemented in hospitals, nurses are less exhausted and work fewer overtime hours, according to Bedard.

Patient care improves, she says, and rates of absenteeism drop, as does the use of disability insurance.