Quebec’s health-care network missing 9,500 workers amid coronavirus crisis, premier says

Quebec’s premier issued an impassioned plea to the thousands of health-care workers absent from the province’s health network as the number of deaths and cases of the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to climb.

François Legault said on Thursday that of the 9,500 employees absent from work, about 4,000 were diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. He is asking all workers who are not in quarantine and are able to return to work to do so.

“We need you,” he said during his daily briefing.

READ MORE: Human rights complaint lodged over treatment of Quebec’s long-term care residents

In Quebec, the death toll has risen to 1,243 after 109 new fatalities were reported on Thursday. Legault said the majority of victims lived in long-term care homes.

He said the government is focused on finding extra personnel for those facilities, many of which face outbreaks and staffing shortages.

“Our priority remains finding people for CHSLDs,” he said.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged help earlier in the day following a request from the province for 1,000 soldiers, Legault said the health-care network still needs its thousands of absent workers.

READ MORE: Quebec requests 1,000 soldiers to help in long-term care homes hit hard by coronavirus pandemic

Trudeau, for his part, said on Thursday that bolstering long-term care facilities with the Canadian Armed Forces is a short-term solution. The federal government did not provide more details about the plan.

The province has 21,838 cases to date. The respiratory illness has led to 1,411 hospitalizations, and there are 207 patients in intensive care.

As the government prepares to gradually reopen the economy and schools, Legault stressed on Thursday that there are two different realities unfolding in the province.

“In Quebec, we really have two worlds: one with CHSLDs and the other with the rest of society,” he said.

2:19Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau calls COVID-19 deaths in long-term care homes ‘unacceptable’

Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau calls COVID-19 deaths in long-term care homes ‘unacceptable’

— With files from the Canadian Press

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