Quebec's new bonus incentive draws rural technologists to bigger cities

Josey Bouchard, a spokesperson for Friends of the Pontiac, a grassroots group from Quebec says the situation is
Josey Bouchard, a spokesperson for Friends of the Pontiac, a grassroots group from Quebec says the situation is

Rural western Quebec health care workers are applying for jobs in big cities — a trend some observers say is the unfortunate but predictable consequence of a recently-enacted bonus system.

Last month, the Quebec government announced bonuses of up to $22,000 for technologists at hospitals in Hull, Gatineau and Papineau, and other bonuses of up to $18,000 for technologists in Maniwaki.

The bonuses are meant to prevent staff from fleeing to better-paying jobs in Ontario.

But hospital workers in Shawville and Wakefield have not been extended the same deal.

Since the bonuses were announced, the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO) — western Quebec's health authority — confirmed to Radio-Canada that nine out of 12 medical imaging technologists working on the outskirts of Gatineau have applied for jobs at hospitals in Hull and elsewhere in Gatineau over the last month.

Seven of those nine workers are staff in Shawville and Wakefield where the bonuses are not being offered.

"I can't blame the technicians," said Josey Bouchard, a spokesperson for the local grassroots group Friends of the Pontiac, adding that the situation is not surprising "but completely disheartening."

Imaging technologists from the hospital in Shawville, Que. will not receive the bonuses recently announced by the Quebec government.
Imaging technologists from the hospital in Shawville, Que. will not receive the bonuses recently announced by the Quebec government.

Imaging technologists from the hospital in Shawville, Que. will not receive the bonuses recently announced by the Quebec government. (Rebecca Kwan/Radio-Canada)

Bouchard said she's worried any exodus of workers would affect the quality of care in smaller communities — a concern shared by MRC des Collines-de-l'Outaouais Warden Marc Carrière.

He's calling on the province to offer bonuses more widely.

In an emailed statement, a CISSO spokesperson said the bonus are key to helping "stabilize resources in the short term," adding that a committee is monitoring their impact.

The office of Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel said it is also following the situation.