CHSLD employees protest under-staffing

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Allyson Beauregard

OUTAOUAIS – Across the Outaouais, staff of the region’s residential and
long-term care centres (CHSLD) protested outside the buildings September

Allyson Beauregard

OUTAOUAIS – Across the Outaouais, staff of the region’s residential and
long-term care centres (CHSLD) protested outside the buildings September
12, denouncing the chronic under-staffing they routinely face. Employees of the Manoir Sacré-Coeur in Mansfield, supported by staff from the local community service centre (CLSC) and the Pontiac Reception Centre in Shawville also participated, taking turns picketing during their breaks and lunch hour.
“This visibility action was intended to reiterate the importance of ensuring the quality of care provided to seniors and those with disabilities in the region’s CHSLDs. It’s important to reinvest in CHSLDs to improve resident care, all through better working conditions for staff,” said the Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux (FSSN-CSN) in a press release that noted the shortage of workers is part of the cause of the problem.
According to many CHSLD employees, under-staffing became a much bigger problem following the fusion of the health system and the formation of the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais (CISSSO), which also resulted in budget and position cuts. “It was never like this [before]. It’s the worst thing that could have happened to us,” said a 25-year employee, who chose to remain unnamed.
“I love my job and I do it with passion, but I hate when we are short-staffed because we can’t give the same services. Instead of doing activities and socializing with residents, we have to do extra baths, etc. It’s taking away one aspect of care, that’s the worst part … They aren’t bags of potatoes we can just throw in the closet,” she added.
The Mansfield CHSLD has 40 residents (who require increased care with the passage of time), cared for by six staff members per shift. If someone calls in sick, often they work without a replacement and employees are still expected to perform the same amount of work. They must also frequently work overtime and consecutive shifts, which further contribute to ‘burn-out’. “We’re only human. We can’t do miracles,” stressed the employee.  
The FSSN-CSN stated that local bargaining is ongoing to provide staff with more
stability.
“When I leave and retire, instead of giving the next person in line a full-time
[position], they will break it and give her a 0.7. Employees want security. For eight years, I worked every weekend. That was okay because I knew it would get me up the ladder one day to full-time. But now, new employees aren’t encouraged. They say ‘why would I work every weekend and overtime when we won’t get recognized?’” explained the unnamed employee. 
According to Christa Fleury, regional FSSN-CSN vice president, alleviating the problem requires new measures including increased funding and making the region’s health system more attractive for employees to fill vacant
positions.
“Given the number of interventions the union has made with the employer and the government, I fear we are dealing with people who don’t want to fix the problem,”
concluded Daniel Baril, treasurer of the Conseil central des syndicats nationaux de l’Outaouais.