Quebec, a hot spot for the novel coronavirus, is hoping to bolster staffing in its hard-hit nursing homes by hiring 550 orderlies from abroad.

Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette announced the pilot project on Thursday as the province’s COVID-19 caseload rose to 49,702.

“With this pilot program, we want to pick 550 orderlies because the needs are urgent,” he said.

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The announcement comes one day after Premier François Legault announced the province is launching a recruitment campaign to hire 10,000 orderlies in response to critical staffing shortages in long-term care homes.

Amid the health crisis, Jolin-Barrette said the ministry wants to proceed quickly and has already undertaken virtual recruitment missions abroad to identify potential short-term candidates.

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The province is looking for potential applicants with years of work experience equivalent to that of an orderly in their country of origin and who pledge to commit to working for at least two years in a long-term care home.

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