Quebec promise of 10,000 orderlies by September has fallen short

The Quebec government’s promise to have 10,000 orderlies working in long-term care homes by September has fallen short.

Right now, there are just over 7,000 orderlies working in the field, and the rest, it appears, didn't finish the training.

“It's something that really demands a lot of you, physically and mentally, and especially dealing with COVID, so it's something that you have to have a strong stomach and a strong heart,” said David Landsman, an orderly who helped take care of the province’s most vulnerable at the peak of the crisis.

In June, former health minister Danielle McCann made a promise to hire more staff to ease the pressure on health-care workers.

“At this point, I can guarantee that we will have 10,000 new orderlies in September, and this is great news,” she said at the time.

Four months later, despite the almost 100,000 people who showed interest, getting 10,000 to work was far from a guarantee.

About 7,100 are working because the others dropped out, according to the FSSS-CSN, the province's largest health care workers’ union.

The government should have taken that into account, said union president Jeff Begley.

“If the objective was to put 10,000 people in September, they should have given themselves manoeuvrability as far as I'm concerned. Obviously we weren't consulted about it,” he said.

It’s disappointing, said Landsman, given the working conditions this past spring.

“A lot of times we would have to train people who weren't used to the field and explain how you go about a normal routine, so not only are you helping people during the worst situation in modern history but you have to train people at the same time,” he said.

While there is concern, everyone agrees that 7,000 workers are better than none.

And more are on the way, said Health Minister Christian Dube.

“The second group of 3,000 is being trained right now, so in the next three months, because they started training a month ago, in mid-September,” he said.

SIGN UP NOW

Stay up-to-date and in-the-know by subscribing to one of our newsletters