Quebec calls on thousands of public servants to help clean, distribute meals in hospitals

Quebec's treasury board is calling on public servants from all departments to help in hospitals, CTV News has confirmed. 

Radio-Canada first reported that an internal letter was sent to government personnel asking them to temporarily become service aids. 

Service aids help prepare and distribute meals to patients, they also help with cleaning and other tasks. Quebec's health ministry is looking to hire 2,165 of them. 

A treasury spokesperson told CTV News the call for help is in response to rapidly-rising occupancy in Quebec's hospitals due to the highly-infectious Omicron variant. 

"(There is) an urgent need for personnel," Florence Plourde told CTV in an email, adding that the aids will be brought in over the coming weeks. 

As of Sunday, there were 3,085 people in hospital with COVID-19, 275 of whom were in the ICU.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault was cautiously optimistic about Omicron's effect on the province's hospitals in the coming days. 

On Thursday, he said he had been advised by public health that the current wave is likely coming to its peak, and that hospitalizations would soon follow suit.

"We have to remain very careful. The number of hospitalization is still very high, and will maybe continue to increase for the next few days," he said, predicting hospitals may see their highest rates of admission over the weekend. 

Officials continued to encourage Quebecers to be vaccinated. Even as Omicron infections spread rapidly among those vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, it still provides good protection against serious infection.

“Vaccination is continuing," said Legault. "It is the key in order to be able to live with the virus." 

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