MONTREAL -- Quebec's nurses have left the province's public healthcare system in droves during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a La Presse report.

According to the report, 4,000 nurses have quit their positions, a 43 per cent increase over previous years.

The FIQ, one of Quebec's largest nurses' unions, said the departures are due to a failure of the public system.

The province's healthcare unions have criticized working conditions for years and those conditions have only gotten worse during the public health crisis.

A union spokesperson pointed in particular to a ministerial decree issued at the beginning of the pandemic that allowed the cancellation of vacations, imposed full-time work and forced overtime.

Combined with high patient-to-nurse ratios and the general toll of the pandemic, many nurses have left the public system for private agencies.

The La Presse report comes one day after the Federation de la Sante du Quebec rejected a government offer on a new collective agreement, calling the offer “insulting.” 

LISTEN ON CJAD 800 RADIO: Who is to blame for Quebec’s nurses leaving the public sector? Political analyst Tom Mulcair weighs in: