The Legault government’s announcement Thursday on health measures to be taken during the Christmas holiday season has caused some distress among employees in the health and social services system, as many of them will be on the job between December 24 and 27, which means they will not be able to see family and friends during the holidays. Normally, people working around Christmas day can make up the time around New Year’s Day, and vice-versa.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is therefore asking the Government of Quebec to relax the restrictions to allow those employees hard hit by the pandemic to get their well-deserved share of comfort during the holidays.

“If there’s one category of employees needing the emotional support of their relatives and friends, it’s those in the health and social services system, who have been right out there on the front lines since March, with thousands coming down with the virus. Health measures are absolutely essential to curtail the spread, but the government must show sensitivity and compassion to safeguard the morale of the troops,” according to Frédéric Brisson, President of the Conseil provincial des affaires sociales (CPAS-SCFP).

For example, one solution would be to make an exception for December 31 and January 1, which would apply only to these employees and their friends and family. A period of at least four to seven days without contacts could subsequently be observed before children return to school.

“The government should have thought about it and consulted with us, but it’s never too late to do the right thing. Health care employees have to be shown some flexibility, because their psychological health, which has already been severely taxed, depends on it. If this isn’t done, the credibility of government measures could be adversely affected, not to mention the possible absenteeism and service interruptions that could result,” said Frédéric Brisson.