Investigation among nurses: They would work more hours in mixed public-private practice

    MONTREAL, June 19 /CNW Telbec/ - An investigation conducted among nurses
by the Montreal Economic Institute reveals that the report of the Quebec
roundtable on the nursing workforce neglects an important factor in nurses'
availability: more than half (54%) are willing to work on weekdays in the
private sector in addition to their usual 34-hour work weeks in the public
    This would be comparable to hiring the equivalent of 3,730 full-time
nurses on weekdays, 2,210 on weeknights, 1,350 on weekends and 290 on
statutory holidays. This ability to provide working time suggests that the
shortage of nurses may not be as substantial as it generally believed.
Responses from nurses give reason to think that practising in the private
sector would not be a displacement of human resources but could lead to
increased supply both through a greater number of hours worked and through a
reduced tendency for nurses to leave the profession.
    To put these figures in perspective, the public system will be short
2,643 nurses in meeting its needs this year, according to estimates from the
department of health and social services. This amounts to 3.8% of members of
the profession practising in Quebec. The 1,420 persons surveyed by the
Montreal Economic Institute (the methodology is shown on its website) have
considered working an average of up to 15 hours a month in the private sector,
in addition to their normal duties in the public sector.
    While touching on some of the observations mentioned in the Institute's
investigation, the roundtable on the nursing workforce is upset that this
reserve labour supply could be diverted from the public sector. The
roundtable, in which all the unions took part, suggests reducing the use of
independent labour and of overtime. However, the current popularity of
employment agencies among nurses seems above all to be a symptom of
flexibility problems and rigid work schedules in the public sector rather than
the cause of the nursing shortage. Accordingly, a wider opening to mixed
practice could be a way of reducing pressure on Quebec's health care system.
    The Economic Note, titled The availability of nurses for private
practice, was prepared by Julie Frappier, a health economist and holder of a
master's degree in economics from the University of Montreal.

    The full text is available free of charge at

For further information:

For further information: and interview requests: André Valiquette,
Director of communications, Montreal Economic Institute, (514) 273-0969 ext.
2225, Cell: (514) 574-0969,,

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