MONTREAL -- Workers at a Verdun long-term care facility are accusing management of locking the doors to force them to work overtime during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The union representing staff at the Manoir Verdun, which houses 220 residents, said this was done twice, most recently on April 9.

“Management decided to block the doorways with objects to make sure workers wouldn't leave,” said FIQ-SPSS President Francoise Ramel.

Ramel said nurses ended up staying an extra 15 minutes, while orderlies remained longer.

She added that the Manoir Verdun, a public CHSLD, has been shortstaffed for years, a situation made worse by the pandemic.

“Nurses are regularly threatened with sanctions, guilted and intimidated if they refuse to work extra hours,” she said.


The residence has been the site of 67 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with seven deaths.

Premier Francois Legault said his administration is looking into the situation.

“If this happened, it's unacceptable. We can't lock employees inside and force them to stay inside,” he said.

A spokesperson for the local health authority confirmed workers were locked inside on two occassions and that management was worried employees who didn't want to work overtime would leave early.

Tammy Hamilton said she has seen no signs of improvement despite the provincial government's promises to send reinforcements to long-term care facilities. She said her 84-year-old mother was moved out of her private room to common area a few weeks ago to make room for COVID-positive patients.

“In the days that follow, my mom developed a light fever. They took her out of the common area and moved her into another room on the fourth floor where there was an outbreak,” she said. “There were a lot of patients with COVID-19 there.”

While Hamilton's mother tested negative for the virus, she said she remains in the room without her personal effects and that it was a fight just to get her mother a phone.

“She felt isolated and the words she used was she felt like she was in prison.”