Hundreds of health and social service auxiliaries, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social workers from the private sector are needed to provide home services in Montreal and Laval. A contract that could amount to tens of millions of dollars is being tendered.

The merged health establishments of the two regions have launched this call, through Sigma Health, for more than 1.5 million hours of service per year. That’s the equivalent of 839 full-time employees working 35 hours a week.

It is impossible to know how much the interested private providers will bid on. If all these workers were paid under the first tier of collective agreements to the public, and there were no administrative costs, the costs would be $ 29 million, Le Devoir calculated .For the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS), the “home support services” , which are mainly concerned, are not “home care”, replied the person in charge of relations with the media. Marie-Claude Lacasse. The “external service providers” should provide services “for some users whose situation is not complex or unstable.”

“This is not a privatization of care and services,” she added, “but a framework for the terms of calls for tenders for services to help with domestic life […] [ so that the latter] are of high quality and safe. “

The health establishments answer that, although they wish to reduce the recourse to the private sector to a minimum, they need it to cover ad hoc needs. “ If all staff working hours are full, the establishment will turn to a private provider for requests for extra services or emergency replacements. The call to the private provider is therefore made as a last resort ” , for example answered the CISSS of Laval.

Auxiliaries at the center of the call for tenders

According to the documents of the call for tenders, these private sector workers would be called upon to work for CLSCs, day centers, residential centers, intermediate resources, private residences under agreement, rehabilitation centers, centers youth and the hospitals of the six CISSS and CIUSSS in Montreal and Laval.

Documents are available online through the government’s electronic tendering system (SEAO).

The majority of service hours requested, ie 1.4 million, relate to health and social services auxiliaries.

The mission of these workers is to help people in their daily activities at home, and to “promote the integration and socialization of the user” . They help users with their hygiene and taking medication, for example. They must have a vocational studies diploma.

The private service provider would also commit to providing 6,800 hours of physiotherapists, more than 10,700 hours of occupational therapists and nearly 25,000 hours of social workers.

the biggest applicant in this call for tenders, with more than 436,000 hours or the equivalent of 239 full-time employees, especially auxiliaries.

The establishments defend themselves from privatizing the services. The private sector is requested “as a supplement to cover certain replacements and thus ensure the continuity of services” , indicated by email the communications manager of the Center-Sud, Mélissa Léveillé. She added that her establishment aims to “minimize the use of such labor.”

On the North Island side, we are in fact in a campaign of “intensive recruitment” to the public. “It works well ,” said communications manager Hugo Larouche, “ but you sometimes have to meet specific needs”. The call for tenders by Sigma santé was chosen to “have the best possible rates”, he added.