The Quebec government is handing out more money to keep working at unclogging emergency rooms.

Health Minister Gaetan Barrette announced a $23.25 million boost Friday, designed to create 350 spaces in seniors’ homes, long-term care and other care facilities, so that patients who are in acute care beds can be moved quickly into those facilities.

Barrette has long said the reason ERs remain critically crowded is often because patients who could be treated elsewhere remain stuck in acute care. He said patient shouldn’t be languishing in ERs for more than 24 hours.

Today, many local hospitals are over capacity, including:

  • CHUM at 137%
  • Jewish General Hospital at 162%
  • Royal Victoria Hospital at 142%

The 350 new beds will be created in the Montreal, Montérégie, Laval, Lanaudière and Laurentians regions.

In addition to the $23 million, Barrette said they will give $5.7 million to fund these spaces between now and the end of March to fight a particularly tough flu season.

“We are currently experiencing a special period of traffic because of the alleged low efficacy of the influenza vaccine, a situation we cannot control,” said Barrette in a news release.

In addition, Barrette said he wants hospitals, nurses and doctors working at full capacity until June 23 to fight the flu season. He said he will not prevent anyone who has booked a vacation from taking one, but otherwise wants everyone working to full capacity to fight the flu.