Employees of three retirement homes in the Excelsoins group have not received their monthly bonus of $ 1,000 for five months, which is supposed to encourage them to work full time. “I need this money because I work at minimum wage to $ 13.50 after five years. But since mid-March 2021, nothing, not a cent! »Launches an employee discouraged by the delay in the payment of his« staircase bonus ».
Put in place by the government in May 2020, this measure aims to encourage full-time work during the COVID-19 pandemic and thus to alleviate the staff shortage in RPAs and unconventional CHSLDs in Quebec. An incentive that has not been paid for nearly five months in three residences of the Excelsoins group, namely the CHSLD Argyle – Les Écluses Saint-Lambert, and the Bellagio and Vivalis residences.
We are talking about a bonus of up to $ 1,000 for four weeks of full-time work, which has not been paid since May. The value of the latter was reduced to $ 400 on July 4, according to government directives.
The seven employees to whom The duty spoke all requested anonymity for fear of losing their jobs. All have struggled to make ends meet financially since the spring. “I went through hell. I worked with the army six days a week, tired, discouraged, and the only positive thing I had was the bonus of $ 1000 per month that the government was giving, ”says a discouraged employee who has a shortfall of more than $ 3,000 in his bank account.
These delays affect nearly 300 employees, according to figures provided by the CSN and the FTQ.
The Quebec Union of Service Employees (SQEES), affiliated with the FTQ, filed grievances last April in connection with the situation at the CHSLD Argyle – Les Écluses Saint-Lambert and the Vivalis residence. “We represent 125 RPAs and CHSLDs (more than 10,000 workers), and the others pay the premiums. The delay can be one month, but never five months! »Exclaims Sylvie Nelson, President of SQEES.
The president of Excelsoins, Christian Archambault, confirmed to the To have to not being able to pay the staircase bonus on time for all of its employees, which represents approximately $ 280,000 per month. “The government has taken a long time to reimburse the measures linked to the health crisis this summer, including the stair premiums, and the advances paid have been considerably reduced. We have a deficit in the processing of reimbursements, which explains the lengthening of the deadlines, and we see a certain standardization in September, ”stated Mr. Archambault by email to To have to.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services is funding the various measures put in place since the start of the pandemic by making cash advances to avoid delays. “Accountability is then used to ensure that the sums have been used in accordance with the guidelines,” the ministry explained by email.
Since 1is April 2021, reimbursement of expenditure from intermediate resources is the responsibility of the CISSS and CIUSSS.
The CISSS de la Montérégie-Center affirms that it is not late and that “the advances paid to the CHSLD Argyle are sufficient to enable it to ensure the payment of premiums to its employees”. “At its request, the CHSLD Argyle has already been able to obtain additional advances, but no new request has been sent to us since last spring,” explains Martine Lesage, CISSS media relations advisor.
As for the Vivalis residence, it received between January and August 2021 a little more than $ 2.3 million in advances for the payment of various premiums, according to information sent by the CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île. -from Montreal. “Each month we make cash advances based on an estimate of expenses that we determine according to their previous accounts,” said the organization.
However, the president of Excelsoins considers that the use of the word “advance” poorly reflects reality, since the amounts spent in connection with COVID-19 considerably exceed the advances paid. “They only reduce the accumulated deficit and are therefore not advances on amounts payable to employees, for example. As of mid-2020, delays in reimbursing COVID-19 expenses to Excelsoins represent approximately $ 4 million as of today, putting enormous pressure on our cash flow, even though we are a company in good financial health, ”says Mr. Archambault.
In interview with The duty, the president of the Regroupement québécois des residences pour seniors (RQRA), Yves Desjardins, also said to have reported two weeks ago to the Ministry of Health that members of his organization were short of funds.
“The way to do it is you spend, you do an accountability, and you get a check returned. But there are places where it was 120 days late. There are those who were at the end of their financial resources. Some people said: my line of credit limit has been reached. I am going to have to cut the salaries of the employees ”, indicates Mr. Desjardins, while specifying that the majority of its members did not have any problem.