MONTREAL -- A Quebec nurses’ union has reached a six-month agreement with the provincial government aimed at ensuring safety for the health workers in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it announced Tuesday.

Three days ago, the Federation interprofessionnelle de la sante du Quebec (FIQ) said these measures were in the works with the government. 

A meal allowance of $15 will be given to employees who work overtime, and $30 will be given to cover childcare expenses for employees working overtime during evenings, nights or weekends. 

Pregnant women will no longer have to work in healthcare settings, and those above the age of 70 or who are immunocompromised who can’t be reassigned will be paid to stay home, according to the FIQ. 

An additional premium will be offered to workers who are providing or who are likely to provide care to COVID-19 patients for the duration of the pandemic. The payment of the premiums registered in a collective agreement that was supposed to end on Tuesday will be renewed for six months. 

FIQ president Nancy Bedard explained that the agreement also means that all standards for the use of personal protective equipment will be met. 

Uniforms, for example, will be provided and maintained by employers in several sectors of the field – notably, in emergency, medical and surgical areas, intensive care, respiratory therapy, imaging, pneumology, in clinics dedicated to COVID-19, and CHSLDs where there has been an outbreak.

The FIQ, which represents close to 76,000 nurses, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists, said it will return to the bargaining table in the coming hours to claim additional compensation for the stress and potential risks arising from the virus.

Nurses are being asked to report dangerous working situations, should they arise. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2020.