Edmundston – The union representing workers at Les Résidences Jodin nursing home in Edmundston is sounding the alarm on the significant understaffing in their workplace. Local 5108, which represents more than 225 workers at the home, is calling for an independent investigation into the numerous contraventions of the Nursing Homes Act regarding the minimum number of hours of daily care to be provided to residents.
“Day after day, the management of Les Résidences Jodin is seriously failing to provide the 2.89 hours of direct daily care for each resident,” said Chantal Montreuil, president of Local 5108 and a care attendant for 20 years. “We are running so short that the average direct care hours per resident is closer to 1.8 hours per day. This is unacceptable and shameful,” she said.
“Last weekend, there were only two workers for every thirty residents. This is unheard of. Normally, it takes at least five workers to provide the bare minimum,” says Jason St. Onge, a care attendant and Vice-President of Local 5108.
The local is asking that the investigation also look at the work of the Department of Social Development inspectors, who are supposed to be looking at the amount of time seniors are being cared for. “In our opinion, the home’s regular inspector, Louis Lévesque, is not thorough enough. We have never seen him make a surprise visit. Each time he visits – what a coincidence! – the management hides the usual lack of staff by bringing in more staff on the day of his visit,” says Chantal Montreuil. “Why doesn’t the inspector compile the schedules of the employees over the last few months to show the minister what is really happening here?”
“Because of the lack of staff, their one shower a week is often put aside, they are only helped out of bed once a day, they eat cold food. The wait for care is much longer than before,” says Sharon Teare, President of the New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions.
“The night staff often work alone for 30 residents and have to wait for help from another staff member who is assigned to another home to help the single staff member with the care. Normally, they are expected to have two employees for every 30 residents at night,” confirmed Jason St. Onge.
“The Department must intervene, because staff shortages are rampant throughout the province and it is getting worse as months go by,” concluded Sharon Teare.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is New Brunswick ’s largest union. With over 28,000 members across the province, CUPE represents workers in nursing homes, health care, education, municipalities, universities, social services, and transportation.