The Syndicat des travailleuses et des travailleurs de la santé et des services sociaux du Bas-Saint-Laurent has levelled serious criticism at the CISSS du Bas-Saint-Laurent regarding its shoddy management of safety measures implemented for staff and users. The situation is extremely problematic in the various CHSLDs on the territory, particularly in Rimouski.

Only yesterday did the wearing of masks become mandatory for all employees required to be less than two metres away from users. Although the manufacturer’s instructions stipulate that its masks must not be worn for more than one hour, orderlies are being asked to keep on wearing the same mask for their entire shift and not change it, even if they have to go from one room to another. Any humidity that collects in the mask can infect the wearer, not to mention the increased risks of transmitting the virus and other bacteria to users receiving care.

Moreover, in accordance with a national agreement regarding special health and safety measures, the employer should take over the responsibility of washing clothing and ensuring that the service remains in house. Following the union’s request to ensure compliance with this commitment contained in a departmental order, the CISSS du Bas-Saint-Laurent simply answered that it could not do so.

The management of the CHSLDs have also refused to announce to employees that a user had been tested and was awaiting their result. In addition, workers living with someone awaiting a test result are not allowed to isolate themselves. As a result, they are being forced to come into work, with a staff shortage being cited as the reason.

“That is nonsensical and totally irresponsible! We have very few cases in the Lower St. Lawrence, and service disruptions are being cited. They are improvising and applying the guidelines willy-nilly without looking at the situations collectively. If corrective action is not taken quickly, it’ll be a catastrophe as soon as a case makes its way into a CHSLD in the region,” said CUPE union representative Yanick Proulx.

Several interventions have taken place in recent weeks, particularly in the last few days, and the union is extremely disappointed at the tone-deafness of the CISSS.

“We have an opportunity to learn from errors made in other regions in Quebec, but instead, people are soldering on with their eyes closed without making adjustments while making the same mistakes. Instead of waiting for guidelines, there’s only one that should apply – good old common sense! Just imagine that your employees were members of your family. No way would you tolerate a situation like this,” added Proulx.