ER overcrowding: more money; full staffing at hospitals during Spring Break and until June 23

Quebec's health minister has announced millions more dollars a year to help ease ER overcrowding in the Montreal area but he's also asking for full staffing at hospitals to help deal with the upcoming flu season.

Gaetan Barrette said at a news conference in Montreal this morning that they're setting aside an extra $23.25-million annually for 350 more beds, with $5.7M being spent right away.

For example, the money would go towards opening beds in long-term care facilties for elderly patients taking up spots in hospitals.

The extra money is for Montreal, the Montérégie, Laval, the Lanadière and the Laurentians.

Barrette said that with the peak flu season arriving in about three weeks and then lasting four to six weeks, they're also asking hospitals to operate with full staff during Spring Break and right up until June 23.

Barrette said they can't do this 365 days a year because there's not enough personnel but he said he's confident healthcare providers can rearrange resources and staffing to avoid cutting staff during the annual spring holiday period - for example, by using part-time workers and not resorting to overtime.

"It's within the feasibility of their situation. We all need to understand that not everybody goes south during the school break but we're not asking anyone to cancel their arrangements for that period of time," said Barrette.

Barrette had already announced an extra $100M in December 2016 for measures to help deal with the ER crunch.