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CBC (Jan 31) Sherbrooke nurse's cry for help on social media prompts response from health minister

Quebec's federation of nurses says many of its members are burning out and that the social media post written by a nurse in Sherbrooke is a typical day-in-the-life account of health care workers across the province.

On Monday morning, after coming home from a night shift, Émilie Ricard posted a picture of herself in tears, as she gives a sarcastic thumbs up.

She begins her message with a quote from Health Minister Gaétan Barrette: "The health care reform is a success." She goes on to say: "This is the face of nursing."

Her lengthy post explains how she is exhausted and stressed, after finishing a shift where she was the only nurse on the floor to care for more than 70 patients. She added that she is ashamed of the the poor service she is able to give.

"I have so much stress that I am cramped all over my back, enough to prevent me from sleeping. I don't want to go to work because I'm afraid of the burden that awaits me."

Her post was shared more than 50,000 times within the first 48 hours.

Union leaders said Ricard's post struck a chord because it is typical of the experience that health care employees go through on a daily basis — especially in the winter months when flu season hits and wintry weather causes falls and fractures.

"However, from year to year we don't see that they anticipate this huge influx of patients. There's overcrowding and there's not sufficient staff," Roberto Bomba, a nurse and treasurer of the FIQ union, told CBC Radio's Homerun.

Bomba also said that cutbacks in recent years and an overhaul of the health care system in 2015 were done "off the backs" of frontline workers.

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A group of nurses stand outside a hospital on their lunch break, waving flags in protest. Nurses in Quebec say they are overworked and exhausted. (CBC)

"Administrations were forced to merge, IT systems aren't communicating, and they are not able to properly manage the workforce," agreed Nancy Bédard, president of the Quebec federation of nurses.
Low response to job postings

Health Minister Gaétan Barrette said the government has agreed to hire more nurses, but the problem remains that nurses just aren't applying for the jobs.

"If you have a hospital…that is one day posting 40 positions and only eight professionals want to take those positions, there are a number of things that I cannot do. So the message that I can send across is that we are willing to hire. We are willing to, as much as possible, offer full-time positions," Barrette said Wednesday.

The unions say that most of the positions posted are part-time ones, and the difficult working conditions don't make them attractive opportunities for candidates.

The Quebec federation of nurses added that even if full-time positions are available, nurses won't want to apply if they think they will be overworked.

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