More than 340,000 shifts at private agencies over the past nine months

Private agencies obtained more than 340,000 work shifts in health establishments in the Montreal and Quebec regions between April and December 2023, a frantic pace which calls into question the government’s objective of banning them by next October .

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As of October 20, the Integrated Health and Social Services Centers (CISSS) of Montreal, Laval, Montérégie and the Capitale-Nationale will no longer be able to call on private agencies at all, announced the Minister of Health, Christian. Dubé, a year ago.

Despite this ultimatum, establishments continue to be dependent on independent labor (IOM) to run the network, as shown by data obtained by The newspaper from April to December last year thanks to the Access to Information Act.

Still a lot of quarters

In total, at least 343,670 shifts were granted to private agencies to hire nurses, nursing assistants or beneficiary attendants. In December alone, 38,463 shifts were paid privately. These figures are not even complete, since some establishments did not respond to our request.


  • CISSS de la Montérégie-Ouest: 90,652
  • CIUSSS du Nord-de-l’Île-de-Montréal: 76,923
  • CIUSSS of the West Island of Montreal: 54,303
  • CISSS de la Montérégie-Centre: 49,367
  • CISSS de Chaudière-Appalaches: 43,183
  • CISSS de la Montérégie-Est: 29,242

Total: 343,670

Source: data obtained from the CISSS, from April to December 2023

Worrying fact: the number of working shifts has not decreased in several CISSS at the end of 2023, which makes it difficult to foresee the end of the private sector. In Montérégie-Ouest, 13,166 work shifts were granted in MOI alone last December, a record since April.

Archive photo, QMI Agency

“It’s going to be a huge challenge. We will have to take great measures, recruit people, admits Régis Blais, professor specializing in health policies at the School of Public Health at the University of Montreal. Will they succeed? It’s going to be very difficult, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”


“Photo courtesy, Régis Blais”

“We believe that abolishing agencies is a good step. Can this be done by October? I have my reservations,” also admits Xavier Gauvreau, vice-president of Quebec Doctors for the Public Plan (MQRP).

The total bill for private agencies reached $227,383,757 during this period. Once again, this figure is partial.

  • CISSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal: $52,467,949
  • CIUSSS du Nord-de-l’Île-de-Montréal: $39,334,664
  • CISSS de la Montérégie-Centre: $39,564,147
  • CISSS de Chaudière-Appalaches: $28,414,710
  • CISSS de Laval: $25,516,426
  • CISSS de la Montérégie-Est: $22,394,463
  • CIUSSS of the West Island of Montreal: $18,771,925
  • Quebec University Hospital: $919,473

Total: $227,383,757

Source: data obtained from the CISSS, they cover from April to December 2023

“Reverse the hemorrhage”

The FSSS-CSN union recently ratified an agreement with the government to recognize up to five years of seniority for private sector employees who return to the public sector. The largest nurses’ union (FIQ) has not yet reached an agreement. The FIQ also refused to grant an interview to Newspaper about ME.

Organization of work, recognition of seniority, salary increases: the government will have to show imagination and flexibility, adds Mr. Blais.

“We need to add conditions that will attract people [du privé]to attract more and more and reverse the hemorrhage,” he says.

Questioned on this subject, the CISSS de la Montérégie-Ouest says it has progressive objectives for reducing the MOI by next October, in particular a reduction of 60% for beneficiary attendants and 30% for nurses by the 5th. may.

“All the managers of our establishment are mobilized to approach agency employees individually to gauge their interest in a position in the health and social services network,” writes the communications department.

In Montreal, the University of Montreal Hospital Center, Sainte-Justine Hospital and the Philippe-Pinel Institute of Forensic Psychiatry say they do not use private agencies.

Independent Workforce End Timeline

  • On October 20, 2024: Capitale-Nationale, Montreal, Chaudière-Appalaches, Laval and Montérégie
  • On October 19, 2025: Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec, Estrie, Lanaudière and Laurentides
  • On October 18, 2026: Bas-Saint-Laurent, Outaouais, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Côte-Nord, Nord-du-Québec, Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Nunavik

Source: office of the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé

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