Disinformation: dozens of workers punished

Misinformation: dozens of workers punished

DAY

Dozens of workers have been punished since the start of the pandemic because of their remarks against vaccines or anti-sanitary measures or for their laxity in the application of the rules. According to several speakers, these sanctions are necessary while for others, we are witnessing a downright slippage. 

“I was the only one [at work] who had a different opinion [by being against the mask]”, says Laura (fictitious name). 

She prefers to remain anonymous to avoid reprisals from her employer. 

For almost twenty years, she worked as a day laborer in the tobacco industry. 

“I had a very good job with good conditions. »

Then the pandemic arrived. Colleagues noticed her anti-masking comments on Facebook, which reached her employer's ears, she said.  

“I don't know if it's psychological, but [wearing the mask], it made me sick […] It's physical work. With the heat, the dust, ”she lists.  

She was summoned by human resources, sent to an isolated department with a salary freeze. 

“I started having anxiety attacks,” explains the one who has been on sick leave since 2020. 

Like her, workers with no history from a variety of fields are suddenly found at fault or at the heart of tensions in their workplace because of their opposition to sanitary measures.

Reports

During this time, Quebec professional orders received more than 260 requests for investigation. 

The Bar alone received no fewer than 170 reports, which led to the opening of files on 21 different lawyers. 

Le Journalidentified 20 professionals who face or have faced their disciplinary council for their comments or published content, or for having failed to comply with certain health measures. The names of 18 of them are public, as their hearings have begun or have ended.

Most had no disciplinary history. 

Of them, there are examples of all kinds: from the somewhat lax chiropractor to the conspiratorial ex-accountant who is followed by 100,000 people on Facebook. 

The two ex-accountants struck off for life, Daniel Pilon and Stéphane Blais , in a joint YouTube video.

The Diary also consulted incognito this spring an acupuncturist and a chiropractor who had been deregistered for several months for these same reasons. 

Journalist Dominique Scali in the office of chiropractor Philippe Landry, in Shawinigan, after his temporary deregistration.

Throughout the encounters, the two failed to wear their masks properly. 

Yes, that's our business

“At the start of the pandemic, it was: oh, my God […], the public is calling on us to do something”, relates Marie-Claude Sarrazin, lawyer in disciplinary law for the syndic of the Order of Chartered Accountants.  

“We had to sit down and ask ourselves: is this our business? explains Me Sarrazin. We came to the conclusion that yes. »

By becoming a member of an order, a professional undertakes to show reserve in his remarks, and not to undermine the honor and dignity of the profession. 

Some codes of ethics, such as that of the College of Physicians, require that they base their practice on recognized scientific principles. 

Privacy

But for other stakeholders, we are currently witnessing a “slippage”. 

Several experts consulted by Le Journal are not convinced that all these cases would pass the test of superior courts.

This is also what lawyer Pierre Daignault, who represents four chiropractors, believes, three of whom are essentially accused of having shared false information on social networks. 

“It don't look at the order. It’s their private life,” analyzes Me Daignault. 

“My clients aren’t big bad guys. They are good people […] They are not all anti-vaxxers. »

“They are a little revolted, worried or anxious,” says the lawyer, who believes that one cannot have the same demands of a chiropractor as a doctor. 

“I do not defend their ideas. But I defend with conviction their right to have these ideas even if I do not share them”, concludes Me Daignault. >RECEIVED REPORTS

170 at the Barreau du Québec

50 at the College of Physicians

8 to the Order of Psychologists

5to the Order of Respiratory Therapists

4 to the Order of Denturists

4 to the Order of Chartered Administrators< /p>

19 cases in other professional orders

Total: at least 260* 

*Several reports may refer to the same professional. Some were unfounded. 

PROFESSIONALS

12 chiropractors

< strong>2chartered accountants

1 acupuncturist

1 lawyer

1 nurse auxiliary

1 doctor

1 optometrist

1 psychologist 

71 POLICEMEN

28 in Terrebonne 

21 in Longueuil 

10 in Gatineau 

5 in Quebec 

4< /strong>in Saguenay 

1 in Laval 

1 in Repentigny 

1 in Sherbrooke 

Source: Access to information requests made by Le Journal with police forces and professional orders. 

More than 70 police officers were notified 

At least 71 Quebec police officers were slapped on the knuckles for non-compliance with health measures, while peace officers were at several times responsible for enforcing them.

“It’s ironic. It’s a bit like saying: do as I say, but not as I do,” comments retired police officer François Doré.

In Terrebonne, 28 police officers received an administrative notice arising from three situations that occurred outside of their work, while this small police force has only about 220. 

In Longueuil, at least 21 police officers have been disciplined for a similar reason since the start of the pandemic. 

Gatherings prohibited

In Gatineau , 10 police officers were sanctioned, including 8 in connection with a rally. 

How to explain that they were punished for acts that occurred outside of work? 

“They have to kind of serve as a role model. You cannot undo with your left hand what your right hand does”, image François Doré. 

“At the same time, they are humans too”, he recalls. < /p>

At the height of the health crisis, the role of the police was to issue tickets to citizens who gathered in large numbers or defied the curfew. 

However, at least 71 of them have been warned, punished, or have been the subject of an internal investigation in connection with health measures, according to data obtained by Le Journal from all the police forces. 

The figures are not exhaustive, however, since large police forces such as the Sûreté du Québec and the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal did not provide their own.&nbsp ;

Some plotters

Disinformation: dozens of workers punished

Maxime Ouimet, ex-policeman

Some cases of police officers who displayed their conspiratorial beliefs have also been publicized, such as that of ex-agent Maxime Ouimet. 

He had put in the embarrassing the Laval police with his publications, before resigning in October 2020. He was also found guilty of harassment of a journalist.  

Three agents of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) were also transferred to administrative tasks after taking part in a meeting of followers of the conspiracy movement in December 2021, published Le Journal this winter. 

They have since returned to their original functions, indicates the SQ.  

Unprecedented situations in the workplace

Des employers have had to deal with unprecedented situations in the workplace due to the pandemic, such as the use of the staff telephone list for propaganda purposes or demonstrations in front of schools.

“It is certain that there are organizations that had to intervene,” says Manon Poirier, president of the Order of Human Resources Advisors and who has heard all kinds of stories. 

For example, an employer had to sanction an employee who had used the emergency telephone list to send a text message to all staff in order to confront them with his conspiracy ideas, relates Ms. Poirier. 

“But you shouldn't think that all the people who have a [divergent opinion on the pandemic] necessarily have inappropriate behaviors,” she nuances.

Difficult to quantify

How common is this type of incident? No one really knows. 

“It happened here and there,” says Karl Blackburn of the Conseil du patronat, who sees it as a series of anecdotes.  

Several experts in the prevention of radicalization say, however, that they have been asked to give training on the subject by many organizations.  

One of the most publicized cases was that of Patrice Trudeau, a teacher of Montreal who was the subject of disciplinary measures for having presented to his students a video which “trivialized the health crisis”, according to the letter from the employer. 

A sign bearing the image of the Teacher Patrice Trudeau at a protest outside a school last fall.

In September, anti-vaccine activists demonstrated in front of his school with his face on their signs, which led Quebec to pass a bill to regulate these demonstrations.  

Le Center de services scolaire of Montreal indicates that Patrice Trudeau is still in his employ. For his part, Mr. Trudeau says he faces a threat of dismissal.  

The condition for starting to teach again: no longer talking about subjects related to the pandemic with his students, he says. “In other words, not to do my job as an ethics teacher. » 

“Arbitrary”

Héloïse Landry, who notably participated in a video with Mr. Trudeau and activist François Amalega, is at the head of the collective Education and Human Rights. 

She says she is in contact with dozens of other teachers with similar experiences.

According to her, the choice to punish whether or not a teacher is often “arbitrary” in the education sector. 

“We had teachers who said: 'well, I don't wear my mask in class, and no one don't disgust me”. In another school, someone blinked and was quickly summoned for disciplinary action,” reports Ms. Landry. 

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