MONTREAL -- More full-time nurses are needed to relieve overworked health workers at Quebec's hospitals, the Federation of Quebec Nurses (FIQ) has said.

This winter, an aggressive flu season has aggravated overcrowding at Montreal-area hospitals, prompting managers to force nurses to work double shifts.

Forced overtime, as it's known, needs to end, FIQ president Denyse Joseph said on Thursday, adding that increasing the number of nurses who work full-time would help alleviate nurse workloads and improve patient care.

"We need to increase that ratio, in order to give safe quality care to the patient," she said.

It's been tried before, Joseph said. At a Quebec City psychological ward, more full-time nurses led to better patient care; the full-time nurses actually wanted to work overtime, and they called in sick less frequently, she said.

Contrast that with Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital recently. ER nurses were told to work double shifts--16 hours. Many called in sick, citing burnout, and the hospital turned patients away.

A spokesperson for the MUHC told CTV News nurses there are rarely forced to work overtime.

Health Minister Danielle McCann said, in a statement, that the ministry invested $200 million to improve nurse working conditions. McCann has promised to abolish forced overtime.