Lisa Djevahirdjian | CUPE Communications
Involved in CUPE 4835 since 2001, Vice-President Isabelle Painchaud is committed to the labour movement and the well-being of workers. She has taken up numerous causes, one of which has been the installation of defibrillators in the workplace.
In December 2018, employees of the National Film Board (NFB) lost their colleague, Richard Lanoue, who died on the job from cardiac arrest. His death was probably avoidable since Isabelle and her colleagues had already been campaigning to have a defibrillator installed in their premises.
“For years, we had been demanding that our employer acquire a defibrillator. We managed to get one, but it came too late to save a life. One of our colleagues died and perhaps could have been saved if this invaluable medical equipment had been at hand. Since that time, I have made it a personal commitment to ensure that this doesn’t happen to others,” explained Isabelle Painchaud. Two days after the tragedy, the NFB received its long-awaited defibrillators.
With the union team led by the Local President Luc Léger, Isabelle knocked at every door she could and waged a fight to prompt employers across the country to purchase defibrillators. They also worked with former NDP MP from Sherbrooke, Pierre-Luc Dussault, to introduce a bill on this issue in the House of Commons.
“We are used to having smoke detectors and extinguishers everywhere. We’ll adjust very well to having defibrillators. They’re easy to use, and they cost little when you think that they can save lives. It’s a win-win situation for both employers and employees,” said Isabelle Painchaud.
Delegates from CUPE 3835 attended the CUPE-Quebec convention, where they presented a motion requesting that defibrillators be installed in all workplaces, which was carried unanimously.
Her struggle for the well-being of her peers is nothing new. “When I was 9, I led my friends at school on a strike! It was raining outside at recess, and one of our classmates who wasn’t properly dressed was freezing. I asked the supervisor whether we could bring her inside the school, and she said no. As soon as I got back to class, I said to the others, ‘We’re going on strike!’ Our teacher explained that we had to find a spokesperson and prepare signs. It was quite the baptism of fire,” recalled Isabelle Painchaud.