Temporary orderlies say tensions were high at CHLSD facilities
MONTREAL -- A year ago, Trina Clement didn't think she'd be working for a transport company — but she's pretty happy she does.
"[It's a] good team that I work with. There's opportunities here for me," she says.
It's a far cry from the career she was heading towards. Last year, residential and long-term care centres (CHSLDs) were facing serious staff shortages, resulting in the neglect of patients.
In an extraordinary move, Premier Francois Legault launched a massive recruitment to hire more orderlies.
"If you want to make a real difference in the life of our elderly, please join us. We need you," said Legault at the time.
The government agreed to pay $9,000 for three months of training, and to increase orderlies' wages to $26 an hour, with premiums.
Clement jumped on the opportunity.
"I like to help. The opportunity that they were paying us for our training was certainly a plus," she says.
When she completed her training last September, Clement was given a one-year contract at a South Shore senior's home.
But Clement says that, from the get-go, there was tension between new orderlies like her and those with more experience.
"They always said we're doing it only for the money," she says.
CTV News heard variations of this statement from other orderlies, including Patricia Lewis.
"I was personally treated differently by mainly the nurses. They were very rude," says Lewis.
According to Jeff Begley, president of the Fédération de la Santé et des Services Sociaux (FSSS-CSN), there was jealousy within CHSLDs.
"There are some people who say this as 'wow, I had to take a full course that lasted almost a year. I had to pay for it — or at least I wasn't paid for [doing] it," he says.
For Clement, her work at the senior's home took place during a difficult period. The second wave was just getting started, staff were getting sick, and Clement says she couldn't properly care for the seniors.
"We don’t have the proper time to give them what they need," she says.
But as hard as it was for some, according to the FSSS-CSN, Legault's recruitment was a big success.
Of the 10,000 people hired, more than 90 per cent are still working today.
"People are starting to be able to take time with the patients. Speak with them and get really involved on the human level. But there’s other places where, 'ok now we’re able to at least give one bath a week,' which they weren’t able to do before," says Begley.
Now, facing a fourth wave, he hopes the government will make many of those temporary hires permanent to prevent orderlies from being overworked.
"The fact that we’ve been in a year and a half-long crisis, there are some people that were going to retire in 2026-27, who are going to say 'I’m just spent.'"
But so far, even some who love their new positions still don't know if they'll have a permanent job next month.
"I don’t know what happens to me once my contract with the government is up. I don’t have a permanent job anywhere. I’m basically a floater," says Lewis.
And the fear is if people like her aren't given permanent positions soon, they — like Clement — may go looking for another job.