Quebec Hopes Military Can Stay Longer as Province Plans to Recruit More Long-Term Care Orderlies From Abroad

May 29, 2020 Updated: May 29, 2020

Quebec is asking for the military to remain stationed in the province’s long-term care facilities until September to help battle the COVID-19 pandemic while the government launches a recruitment campaign for more orderlies from abroad.

“The situation remains fragile in senior homes; we need a lot more trained workers,” said Premier François Legault during the daily press briefing on May 28.

To support the province’s struggling health-care system, Legault is asking roughly 1,000 members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) deployed to Quebec to remain helping out in the province’s long-term care centres until Sept. 15.

On May 26, the CAF released a report on the conditions of long-term care centres in Quebec. The 60-page report offers a detailed observation of 25 care centres and revealed three critical problems in combating the coronavirus: staffing shortages, the improper usage of personal protective equipment, and the establishing and management of “cold” and “hot” zones.

Legault has proposed launching a large-scale recruitment campaign to have 10,000 more workers to be trained as orderlies. The new recruits would begin training as early as mid-June.

Quebec’s Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette also announced on Thursday that the province will first hire 550 orderlies from abroad as a pilot project. Jolin-Barrette said detailed information about the pilot program will be released in the coming weeks.

Nurses and other health-care workers held demonstrations across Quebec on May 27 to protest against the overwhelming working conditions and the lack of vacations. Quebec Nurses’ Federation president Nancy Bédard expressed concerns that health-care workers will not be rested enough to handle a potential second wave of the virus outbreak next fall.

Meanwhile, Ontario is having its own set of problems related to seniors’ homes. The CAF’s report came on the heels of a report revealing the “gut-wrenching” situation of the long-term care homes in Ontario. Released on May 26, the report described the mistreatment of senior residents in five facilities where CAF members were dispatched.

As part of lifting restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 in Quebec, Minister for Justice Sonia LeBel announced at the Thursday briefing that courthouses will reopen as early as June 1. She said the health crisis created good opportunities for the digital transformation of the justice system, including the creation of 36 fully functioning virtual hearings rooms.