MONTREAL -- The Quebec Order of Nurses (OIIQ) announced on Monday that it will suspend the practice permits of its members who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 as of next Friday.

The decision comes three days after Quebec Minister of Health and Social Services Christian Dubé urged the various professional orders of health-care workers to suspend the licences of those who have not been vaccinated.

The minister added on Friday that recalcitrants who thought they could work elsewhere might be in for a surprise in the coming days.

OIIQ president Luc Mathieu said in a Radio-Canada interview on Monday that as of the end of last week, 4,338 of his members had not been properly vaccinated and that the status of 5,716 others remained to be verified.

The decision on the licence suspension is expected to be officially communicated to those affected on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Mathieu noted that the suspensions will remain in effect until proof of proper vaccination is provided.

Mathieu said the members of the nurses' order are responsible for protecting the public and that vaccination is a recognized means of doing so.

He added that members who refuse to be vaccinated could be assigned to telepractice duties if the institutions for which they work allow it.

As of March 31, the Order had close to 80,500 members, including just over 900 who were inactive and another 1,347 who had limited practice rights to participate in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

A decree from the Quebec government will force the suspension without pay of all health-care personnel who are not vaccinated as of Friday, Oct. 15.

The College of Physicians has already announced that it will suspend its own recalcitrant members' right to practice.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Oct. 11, 2021.