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Quebec spending on private health-care workers up by 335% in last 5 years amid labour shortage

The amount of money Quebec has spent on private health-care workers has quadrupled in the last five years as it continues to deal with a worker shortage made worse by the pandemic.

To help fill the gaps, the Ministry of Health and Social Services has been forced to hire workers from the private sector.

In 2017-2018, spending on private health-care workers was at just over $200 million, according to figures provided by the health ministry. Fast forward to the pandemic years, in 2020-21 there was a massive jump to more than $663,909,408 million dollars.

This year alone, spending has already reached more than $875 million.


  • 2017-2018:  $201,022,961
  • 2018-2019: $234,777,519
  • 2019-2020: $349,205,763
  • 2020-2021: $663,909,408
  • 2021-2022: $875,129,373

The money pays for doctors, nurses, and other workers who are now in the private system.

Quebec's largest nurses union, the FIQ, said this is a total failure by the provincial government and comes at a huge cost to taxpayers.

Union president Julie Bouchard said Quebec should start making the public system more attractive to potential employees. To do that, there needs to be better working conditions.. and a reduction in workload.

For years, mandatory overtime has been a common side effect of the labour shortage.

Workers have long dealt with "fatigue" and "burnout," Bouchard said, so they often find work in the private sector, where working conditions are better and the pay is higher.

On Tuesday, Premier François Legault was asked about the province's tendency to turn to private health care to deliver services in Quebec. Speaking at an announcement about a new candidate in the fall election, the premier made it very clear that he wants Quebec to put an end to using private worker agencies to fill gaps in the health-care system.

"Our objective is to get rid of private agencies. I don't like private agencies, but in the meantime — because of the shortage — it's less worse to use those agencies," Legault said.

Legault admits because of the pandemic, some health-care workers left the public sector and it takes about three years to train new nurses, so he said the problem won't be solved tomorrow.

The numbers provided by the health ministry do not include the money spent on security guards for health facilities as the government outsources that job to private companies.

This year, Quebec has spent more than $300 million on security in its health facilities. Top Stories

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