MONTREAL -- Some of Quebec’s newly hired orderlies say they’ve been unpleasantly surprised to learn that the job deal may not be as advertised, and some have begun to quit.

“They promised us to have a full-time job and a salary of $49,000 per year,” said one student, Vanessa Tineus, hired as part of the province’s push to recruit 10,000 new orderlies.

But when she showed up to the Competence 2000 training centre in Laval this week, she says she was told that salary isn’t going to be the reality.

“They said they can promise us a part-time job,” Tineus said. 

A number of students quit as soon as they were told this, she said, and they were angry. Some had left full-time jobs to start the training. Others are considering quitting.

“If I don’t have a full-time job, I can’t be like that and wait… to pay the rent and to give food to my kids,” said Marie-Josie Mallette, another student.

Mallette says she feels tricked by the government—she says the $26-per-hour salary that applicants were promised is also not going to be the reality.

In fact, the salary will start at $20.55 an hour, she said. It only adds up to $26 because of a COVID-19 premium that will end once the pandemic is over.

“We are here because we want a career and we want to do this forever,” said Malette.

Responding to the students’ outcry, Quebec’s minister responsible for seniors, Marguerite Blais, tweeted that the government has been clear: what they promised will stand.

“We are offering full-time work at $49,000,” she wrote. “That will apply.”

According to FSSS-CSN union representative Nathalie Bourque, however, even current orderlies with years of experience don’t make that much, and the premier’s promises would sidestep ongoing negotiations to increase their pays, leaving these students’ futures up in the air. 

Bourque also said this is a province-wide reality, and that orderlies in training in places outside of Laval will experience the same worry once they find out. 

Blais later clarified her comments to say that while the $49,000 jobs are not the pay structure for existing orderlies, changes will need to be made in order to make it the reality for the class that’s currently training, and the government hasn’t changed its commitment to do that.

“It's not funny,” said Mallette. “It’s like, we are here and we don’t know why. We signed up for something. They make us take an engagement for one year and then there is nothing.”