The editorial answers you | The absenteeism rate in the network on the rise

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Posted April 3

Nathalie Collard

Nathalie Collard
The Press

We were told very often that thousands of health network employees were absent for various reasons. What about now? And can we break down this information?

Gilles Beaulieu

Last January, the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé, sounded the alarm. There was a shortage of 20,000 employees in the health system in connection with COVID. In all, the Minister estimated that the total number of employees absent from the network for various reasons was around 50,000 (it was 62,073 exactly during the holiday season according to the data provided by the Department). He then embarked on a marathon of negotiations with the unions to bring back as many staff as possible on the floor.

The situation then improved… before deteriorating again over the past week.

As of March 23, there were 7,782 people whose absence was related to the virus (they were awaiting results, in isolation, on preventive withdrawal, etc.). A week later, that number had already risen to 10,037 (as of March 29).

The total number of absences also remains high. As of February 26, the Ministry of Health estimated the number of absences for the entire network at 58,827. This data, which includes absences related to COVID, also includes disability absences (salary insurance and CNESST), parental absences, unpaid leave, vacation, etc.

That’s roughly only 3,000 less absent employees than during the most critical period.

In short, there are still a huge shortage of people in the health network, which is not reassuring if the sixth wave, which we see dawning on the horizon, had just struck hard. We would probably end up with a scenario similar to that of the Holidays, that is to say a crying lack of personnel to deal with a high number of hospitalizations. It remains to be hoped that this does not happen.

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