CUPE 4950, which represents 240 family-type resources (FTR) working in the Portneuf, Quebec City and Charlevoix regions, believes its members have been overlooked during the COVID-19 crisis.

Though unknown to the general public, FTRs are foster families that accommodate clients with autonomy issues ranging from mild to severe and those with multiple handicaps such as autism spectrum disorder, alcoholism, substance abuse, serious behavioural or mental health disorders, physical and intellectual disabilities, along with semi-autonomous seniors.

Unlike intermediate resources (IR) which have facilities that have up to 60 rooms, FTRs can receive a maximum of nine persons in their personal residence. Their mission is to improve the users’ living conditions and develop their autonomy. They are paired up by the CIUSSS or the CISSS in their respective regions based on their needs.

“During the day in normal times, FTRs spend their time hosting a series of activities in their day centres and elsewhere. However, with the confinement, it has become more difficult to manage all users within a family home. They are more anxious and anguished. Assaults and self-mutilation, among other things, have been noted,” said Denise Girard, the President of CUPE 4950.

With the spotlight on the CHSLDs, the FTRs are beginning to feel exhausted, having to deal with the ever-increasing workload due, in particular, to the absence of replacements and strict confinement measures. In addition, they feel they’ve been abandoned by the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux.

FTRs have only rarely been the subject of an announcement from the MSSS, but when they were, the messages conveyed complicated their work instead of simplifying it. We are referring here to the directive to relax measures regarding the presence of caregivers in CHSLDs, IR-FTRs, and seniors’ residences. According to Ms. Girard, this measure should not apply to FTRs.

“Our family home is the issue here. We’re not an institution. We cannot receive people from outside our surroundings during this confinement period. It makes no sense!” said Ms. Girard.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees represents 760 FTRs across Quebec.