COVID EMERGENCY: working in rotation and working on more than one unit/site

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Open letter to Dr Gfeller

Robert Lagueux


We hereby formally request that you stop creating and maintaining, as is, positions that require rotation and/or working on more than one work unit and/or site.

As of September 10, 2020 we have had 279 MUHC employees who have been contaminated.  Many of these contaminated individuals have contaminated colleagues and patients.  Several outbreaks in several departments have been unintentionally caused by MUHC employees.

These outbreaks and contaminations in the workplace are unacceptable and are forcing us to change the way we work and think about posted positions.

Many of these contaminations and outbreaks could have been avoided.  Among the factors that have strongly contributed to these outbreaks/contaminations is the fact that the MUHC has never had the technical means that are vital in times of pandemic:

  • Lack of N-95 masks, led management to limit their use rather than generalizing their use to all hospital staff, which should be a true prevention policy.
  • Lack of COVID testing capacity has led the MUHC to limit COVID testing.  Since April 1, the union has been demanding that every health care worker be tested once a week.
  • Staff movement on several care units, shifts, sites.  Many of these untested and possibly asymptomatic employees have contaminated colleagues and patients.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that walking untested workers across several units/sites/shifts is a totally irresponsible policy that can only generate more contamination.

We hereby inform you that at the end of August, the CISSS Laval Management posted 127 float team positions on several sites/units and some of these positions were also in rotation.  Following an intervention by the Union with the Ministry, all postings have been withdrawn and will have to be re-posted in specific units without rotation.  The Ministry also intervened to have 450 float team positions posted in the CISSS in Lanaudière removed.

The union opposes the posting of any rotational positions as well as float team positions.  

We ask :

  • that all existing positions that currently require shift rotation and/or presence on more than one unit or site be re-posted on a single shift and work unit.

In addition, as specified in our open letter to Dr. Gfeller dated August 21, 2020, we ask that :

  • That all employees pass the N-95 leak test.
  • That all employees working in a yellow or red zone have the N95 mask in addition to gloves, gown and visor.
  • That N-95 masks be available in sufficient quantities at all times.
  • that each health care worker be tested once a week. 

We would like to remind you that in this letter, we have outlined at length the concerns of scientists regarding the possible spread of the virus in aerosol mode.

Our demands are all the more important, since this week we have a food service employee who has been infected with COVID. If this worker had been walking around several sites he could have, quite unintentionally, made the situation much worse.  

This worker, like the 279 other infected co-workers, was tested and diagnosed AFTER experiencing symptoms.  Our demand for weekly testing is specifically aimed at moving out of “reactive” mode and into prevention mode.

Following the contamination of this worker, our colleague Martin Vadnais wrote to Mrs. Mailloux.  The answer is quite confusing.  Indeed, Ms. Mailloux replies that the inter-site postings are the continuation of positions posted before the pandemic and that the inter-site movement is not done in the same working day.

Such a response is unacceptable and does not take into account everything we have learned since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Even more serious, Ms. Mailloux, who seems to understand the seriousness of the situation, proposes to talk about it in October – no date has been set.  This is unacceptable.

On the eve of a possible second wave, it is now that we must put in place the job structure and the means of prevention that we are presenting here.

For us, the urgency is such that unless you radically change course, we will have no other choice but to do as our colleagues of the Laval Union and refer the matter directly to the Ministry.

Robert Lagueux
President MUHCEU

Cc: Caroline Dubé, Suzanne Mailloux, Jean-Pierre Daubois, Philippe Morin

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