Success of Quebec's plan to recruit orderlies for CHSLDs has left many seniors with no home care

When the Quebec government announced last month that it was going to hire and train 10,000 new full-time orderlies to work in Quebec's beleaguered long-term care facilities, or CHSLDs, promising to pay them 26 dollars an hour, that had a major side effect: a mass exodus in the home care sector.

Many home workers have quit their jobs in recent weeks to start the orderly training, which began earlier this month, and that has left many seniors without the help they need to stay in their homes.

"I lost about 30 to 40 per cent of my caregivers pretty much within a week," said Beth Cytryn, owner of Bethcare Senior Services. "That made it very difficult for us to keep up with the pay to offer the services we do at home."

Those services include help getting dressed, or getting out of bed, that tens of thousands of seniors in Montreal depend on.

Judy Bambach works for Repit Ressource, a non-profit that offers help through the CLSC system, but right now she says they can only visit a quarter of the seniors on their list.

"We have people calling us every day and it's heartwrenching to hear people's stories," Bambach said. "We've got to find the most vulnerable of vulnerable because we can't help everyone, and that's really sad."

"Unfortunately, we're struggling to be able to help them," she added. "In the last weeks with the raised salaries, some of us have started raising our salaries also. But raising salaries also means raising the price and a lot of our seniors just can't afford that."

Frank Bruni found that out when his mother had to pay an extra five dollars an hour for home care.

"I just find it unacceptable. I think the government should chip in a bit more money," Bruni said. "I know we're having a pandemic but I think there should be a solution."

Some say that solution is a levelling of the playing field, because 80 per cent of seniors in Quebec do live at home.

And without help, many of them risk ending up in a CHSLD.

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