After meeting with workers at the Institut Pinel, Christine Labrie of Québec Solidaire sent a letter to Labour Minister, Jean Boulet, and to the Minister responsible for Social Services, Lionel Carmant, demanding that the CNESST conduct an urgent investigation into the management of security issues at the Institut to produce a clear picture of the situation.

“We cannot wait until a coroner produces a report outlining these kinds of recommendations. I was shocked to see that the situation has reached a critical point. Employees have said they regularly fear for their physical safety and even their lives. They told me they had alerted their managers several times about this, but no observable changes resulted,” Labrie wrote in her letter. “In addition, the union deplores the scant attention it has been receiving from the new management of the Institut, which impedes the establishment, in concert with the actors and stakeholders in the field, of a safe and healthy working environment.”

The employees wanted to invite Ms. Labrie to visit the Institut Pinel, but management refused the request, even though another MNA, Lionel Carmant, received authorization to visit just a few days later.

“We wanted to show her the premises so that she could gain an understanding of the location and the challenges associated with employee safety. She could have seen for herself the effect the shortage of specialized pacification and safety caseworkers (ISPS), who are responsible for emergency responses in the institution, is having. More than 150 have left in the past two years to work in the provincial or federal prison system or in police departments where wages and working conditions are better,” said Marie-Ève Desormeaux, president of CUPE 2960.

The union points out that experienced employees are leaving, which results in a loss of expertise, and that new employees brought in lack training. In the past six years, 432 cases concerning the Institut have been upheld by the CNESST. In 2022, complaints skyrocketed by 800%.