From the beginning of the pandemic, CHSLDs and other retirement homes in Québec have been a hotspot for COVID-19 cases, with most cases being in senior care homes. A major factor that contributed to this plight is the lack of permanent workers in long-term care homes, which only got more problematic as family members were not able to visit their loved ones during the pandemic. As the crisis worsened in the spring, to combat the understaffing, the contractors who oversaw supplying the centres with workers took the opportunity to provide work to undocumented individuals and underpaying them in the process.
Last Tuesday, the 15th of September, Journal La Presse published an investigative article describing the use of undocumented workers in CHSLDs around Québec. In it, they anonymously interviewed a worker for the West Island CIUSS who had his asylum claim rejected. Because of a lack of janitorial staff, the CIUSS that manage CHSLDs subcontracted GDI Integrated Facility Services (a Québec building management and janitorial company) to provide workers. Being understaffed themselves, GDI employed the services of the company Pro-Max, a temping agency, which allegedly recruited individuals whose asylum claims have been denied. These undocumented workers went on to be janitorial staff in centres in Dorval, Lachine, and Lasalle, at a fraction of the legal pay, working up to 12 hour days and up to seven days a week, being paid in cash.
The Comité paritaire de l’entretien d’édifices publics is investigating these allegations.
Originally Published on www.bandersnatch.ca Vol.50 Issue 02 on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020