British Columbia has much better handling of the crisis

La Colombie-Britannique a bien mieux géré la crise

British Columbia has managed to halt rapidly the movement of personnel between the centres long-term care from the beginning of the pandemic COVID-19. Two and a half months later, it has 35 times less people than Quebec in this type of establishment.

By acting on this front as early as the end of march, the director of public health of British Columbia Bonnie Henry – who became a true heroine in her, succeeded in curbing an important factor in the spread of the coronavirus among seniors.

The minister of Health of British Columbia, Adrian Dix, and the director of public health Bonnie Henry, January 31.

In Québec, in comparison, has been unable up to now to halt the flow of staff among NURSING homes, in spite of commitments in this sense.

Depending on what was found in our investigation Bureau, 3207 elderly people died of the coronavirus in NURSING homes quebec, while in the centres long-term care in British Columbia, there are only 91 deaths.

Substantial increase in

Dr. Henry has also launched without delay another bold step. At the beginning of April, it was announced that all employees of private centres for the elderly passed under the responsibility of the province. They got the same salary as unionized employees in public institutions, a lot better paid.

In this way, the salary of orderlies jumped from 7 per hour to switch to a rate of more than $25.

In Quebec, the beneficiary attendants of the private sector have seen their pay improve, first in the middle of a one-time increase of $ 4 per hour, then with a monthly premium of $1000.

For the public health expert, Damien Contandriopoulos, the record is clear, ” the province of Quebec has refused to take measures which are sufficiently serious and drastic to make it possible to stop transfers of employees between establishments “, he said in an interview.

The minister of Health of Quebec, Danielle McCann, and the director of public health, Horacio Arruda, on march 11.

Mr. Contandriopoulos is familiar with the health systems of the two provinces, since it has long been a professor at the University of Montreal, before accepting a position at the University of Victoria last year.

Excessive Centralisation

In his opinion, the quebec system is a victim of its rigidity, due to the excessive centralisation introduced by the reforms of the former liberal Health minister, Gaétan Barrette, and his predecessor, Philippe Couillard. This centralization has driven the managers of the land and imposed too great a regard of the line.

“A centralized system, it works when one is not in a crisis situation, it works as long as one handles things fairly predictable and that it was time to do it,” he says.

The president of the union of nurses of British Columbia, Christine Sorensen, considers for its part that the Western province had a head start to operate as soon as the beginning of the pandemic due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus in the care centre Lynn Valley in North Vancouver, the first in the country, where the balance sheet will eventually reach 20 deaths.

However, she admits that the director of public health Bonnie Henry, was able to target the right measures, and it is probably this that has made the difference compared to other parts of the country.

“We were the first province to establish a prohibition for the employees to work at more than one centre,” she said in an interview.

A true world of difference

Movement of staff

► Quebec

  • 21 march : The minister of Health, Danielle McCann, promulgate the ministerial decree 2020-007, which allows the network management to prevent the movement of staff among NURSING homes. It is, however, not a formal ban, and the movement continue.
  • 1 April : The minister McCann stated that there was still “a major effort to do” to avoid that the employees move from one institution to another. “Our biggest challenge currently, these are the residences for the elderly and NURSING homes,” she says, about the movement of personnel. However, it makes little reference to concrete ways to get there.
  • May 22 : The minister McCann is unable to tell a parliamentary committee when the movement of staff between NURSING homes will cease. “I don’t have a specific date [to offer] “, she explains.

► British Columbia

  • March 21 : The health agency of the region of Vancouver banned the movement of staff between the centres long-term care on its territory.
  • March 25 : The director of public health Bonnie Henry, ordering the provincial prohibition for all employees working in more than one centre long-term care.
  • 10 April : After successful negotiations, the functioning of the provincial prohibition of movement of staff is the subject of an agreement with the trade unions.

Salary increases

► Quebec

  • 2 April : prime minister François Legault provides an increase of $ 4 per hour to the beneficiary attendants of the private sector, which often earned barely more than the minimum wage of $ 12.50 an hour.
  • 7 may : Mr. Legault announced that front-line workers in the health sector, including the employees of the private sector, get a bonus of up to $ 1000 per month.
  • May 27 : Mr. Legault announces the intention of his government to recruit 10,000 new orderlies. They will be trained during the summer and will start in the fall. Their salary will rise to $ 26 an hour.

► British Columbia

  • April 1 : The director of public health Bonnie Henry, announces that the employees ‘ private health care centres get the same salary than in the public sector, which represents an increase of 7 per hour for the employees, whose hourly rate is established when the $ 25.

Employment status

► Quebec

  • No announcement in that sense.
  • April 24 : Francois Legault has mentioned that eventually all the CHSLD du Québec could become public. No date has been advanced for the moment.

► British Columbia

  • April 1 : Ms. Henry announces that all employees of the care centres and private long-term come under the responsibility of the province. They get the same salary conditions as their colleagues in the public sector.

Prohibition of visitors

► Quebec

  • 14 march : François Legault forbidden the visits in hospitals, CHSLDS, intermediate resources and private residences for the elderly.

► British Columbia

  • March 27 : The health agencies of the province bans the visits were not essential in the centers of long-term care.

First death of the COVID-19

► British Columbia

  • March 9 : A man of 80 years old, living in the centre of Lynn Valley in a suburb of Vancouver. This is the first fatal case of coronavirus in Canada.

► Quebec

  • 18 march : A lady 82 years old living in the Residence Eva in Lavaltrie in Lanaudière.

35 times more deaths here


QuebecBritish Columbia
Population8.5 million5.1 million
Testing positive for the COVID-1951 3542 597
Deaths caused by the COVID-19 in the centers of long-term3 20791
Outbreak the more severeCHSLD Sainte-Dorothée, Laval : 95 deathsLangley Lodge, a suburb of Vancouver : 24 deaths
Center long-term care with case945

The full cooperation of the trade unions

To implement the ban for employees working in more than one centre long-term care at the beginning of the pandemic, the ministry of Health of British Columbia has convened the trade unions.

All sat down at a table of negotiations, and the incredible happened.

“I’ve never seen something like this,” said Jennifer Whiteside, secretary-general of the trade union of employees of hospitals of the province (Hospital Employees Union), in an interview.

“Both the government and the unions,” says Ms. Whiteside, are transformed very quickly in a relationship often marked by the confrontation in a joint action. “

The negotiations to put in place the mechanics of the prohibition movement were “remarkably fast” according to the trade unionist. In less than a month, the game was played. On 10 April, the prohibition became a tangible reality in the centres long-term care.

“I think that we have understood from the start,” said Ms. Whiteside, the serious danger that the COVID was for seniors in the centers for extended care, for health workers and for the population of British Columbia in general. “

A director of public health admired

The “Dr. Arruda” British Columbia does not display the same colorful style as its quebec counterpart.

Asked, almost shy, Bonnie Henry, a former soldier with the sweet voice, has managed nevertheless to win the admiration of the inhabitants of the province of the West.

It has been present from the beginning of the crisis, which also differentiates of the Dr. Horacio Arruda, who was outside the country at the end of February to participate in a conference on cannabis.

When it had to announce the first event of COVID-19 in the elders of the province, Dr. Henry could not restrain his tears. His reaction has affected the population. Since, it is adored.

The director of the faculty of public health, University of British Columbia sums up the feelings of his countrymen on the subject of Dr. Henry : “She was very credible. It was calm, it was clear. She says she knows, she says that she doesn’t know. People have trusted and she had the support of the government, ” says professor Peter Berman, to our Bureau of investigation.

But she knew how to make decisions.

“She acted quickly, and that is what is important,” says professor Berman.

On 25 may, Radio-Canada reported that British Columbia had placed orders for protective equipment such as masks from the beginning of February, which is two to three weeks before Quebec.

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