MONTREAL -- The Parti Québécois is calling on the Quebec government to protect health workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic under the whistleblower law.

In recent weeks, stories of neglect have surfaced at long-term care centres across Montreal, including at Maison Herron in Dorval where 31 deaths prompted investigations by police, public health and coroner’s offices. 

Nurses and other staff have expressed concerns over dangerous working conditions at CHSLDs across the city, but not without fearing backlash. 

The whistleblower law allows people to disclose wrongdoings committed by public bodies without fear of reprisal. Since many CHSLDs and private residences aren’t public bodies, those who speak out aren’t protected. 

In a press release on Thursday, the Parti Québécois said it is calling on Health Minister Danielle McCann to make this change, since she spoke of putting an end to silence among healthcare workers back in January. 

“All workers in the health sector must be able to benefit from legal protection,” the political party’s spokesperson for health, Joël Arseneau, said in the release. “Often, they are the first to notice system failures or neglect. They should not be afraid to report.” 

The Parti Québécois said if workers are protected, problematic situations would be exposed sooner. 

“You have to encourage people to talk, to make sure they don't risk anything. For example, if the personnel of the CHSLD Herron had been protected by the whistleblower law, it’s a safe bet that the situation would have become known much sooner,” Arseneau said.