Coronavirus: Montreal school boards address potential loan of staff to health-care sector

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A Quebec school board association is questioning the provincial government’s proposal to redeploy educational workers to the health sector amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, Health Minister Danielle McCann signed into effect an order under the Public Health Act which would make it possible for employees working in the education sector (i.e., teachers, professionals, support staff, administrators) to be redeployed to the health sector, should there be a need.

This order applies to those working for school boards and Cegeps.

This move is in response to the on-going health crisis at government-owned and private nursing homes.

The Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) says its staff has already been providing services during the pandemic.

“The education network has been contributing by staffing and keeping open emergency daycare centres for essential workers, but the notion of requiring educational workers to go and work in the health-care network raises all sorts of questions,” said Russell Copeman, executive director at QESBA.

One of the questions being the safety of QESBA staff and training of their personnel, Copeman added.

“There’s support staff, professional staff, there’s custodial staff — none of them having training in dealing with situations involving a pandemic,” he said.