Nursing Staff: State of Play

The Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec (OIIQ) has just published its portrait of Quebec’s nursing staff. State of play of the profession and labour requirements.

Increase in the number of nurses

For 2017-2018, the OIIQ reports an increase of 0.6% in nursing staff, a trend that has continued “for almost 20 years”, according to Daniel Marleau, business intelligence analyst at OIIQ. “Each year,” he continues, “there is modest growth, which varies between 0.4% and 1%.”

The arrival of new nurses on the job market is obviously not unrelated to this increase. The portrait published by the OIIQ shows that 3,331 licenses were issued in 2017-2018. “For seven consecutive years, more than 3,000 licenses have been issued each year,” adds Daniel Marleau.

At the other end of the spectrum, a decreasing proportion of nurses are 55 years old or above, which suggests a gradual decline from retirements. “These two factors combined – the entry of a large number of new people on the one hand, and many retirements on the other – is what is rejuvenating the workforce,” Mr. Marleau points out.

Bachelor degree holders benefit

Although 93% of graduates with a Bachelor of Nursing degree found a job in 2017-2018, this rate falls to 85% for holders of a college diploma in nursing. “It has been 3 or 4 years that this gap between the two levels of education has persisted,” says Daniel Marleau. “Holders of a college diploma integrate into the job market more slowly than those with a bachelor’s degree.” Of the OIIQ members, 44% now hold a bachelor’s degree, compared to 40% in 2015-2016. This increase is expected to stagnate in the coming years, the report says, however.

The largest concentration of nurses with a bachelor’s degree is in Montreal, at 48%, followed by Quebec City and Sherbrooke, where there are also universities. “It’s going to have to be developed,” Mr. Marleau indicates. “In remote areas where there are fewer universities the demand is more for community care. To practice there, you also need nurses with a bachelor’s degree.”

Large regional disparities

Although Quebec has an average of 8.4 nurses per 1,000 inhabitants, the major centres have a higher concentration, explained in part by the supraregional services that their universities offer the population. Conversely, the lowest rate of nurses per 1,000 is found in the suburbs of Montreal – Laval, in the Laurentians, in Lanaudière and Montérégie. “These are regions that are very diverse and where the needs vary as well, which is not to say that these regions do not need nurses,” cautions the analyst. The so-called semi-remote regions, such as Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie, Saguenay and Abitibi-Témiscamingue, have better figures. “In these regions, there are between 9 and 10 nurses per 1,000 inhabitants,” says Daniel Marleau.

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