The applications of people deemed obese were systematically rejected as part of the paid training program for attendants to beneficiaries which should start on Monday.
At the Center universitaire universitaire de santé et de services sociaux du Center-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, four candidates were excluded because their body mass index (BMI) was equal to or greater than 40, confirmed the spokesperson Jean-Nicolas Aubé.
This is the case of Melina Dubois Sorgente. The 20-year-old woman signed up for accelerated beneficiary attendant training as soon as it was offered. “I’m really not going there just for the salary,” said the mother of a 1 1/2 year-old girl. I took care of my grandfather. I was a caregiver. “
After graduating from high school, she started a DVS in Home Care, which she eventually had to quit.
Melina Dubois Sorgente weighs 200 pounds (91 kg) and measures 4 feet 11 inches (1.5 m). Her BMI is 40.4. “The lady from the CIUSSS Center-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal told me that the limit was 40. She told me that I was at risk for COVID-19. “
“The CIUSSS rejected my application because of my BMI [indice de masse corporelle] ! she says. I am flabbergasted. The young woman, who works in a call center, considers this refusal “discriminatory limit”. Her case had been accepted by a training center, she said. However, it is the CIUSSS that has the final say.
At CIUSSS, it is explained that morbid obesity, like diabetes or other health problems, puts workers at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.
“When we refuse them, we explain to them that we cannot guarantee compliance with the recommendations of the INSPQ and also protect their health / safety at work,” said the spokesperson, who also mentioned that it is a job “very physical ”.
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The CIUSSS du Center-Sud received 2,435 applications for the 936 training places it had to offer.
To participate in the program, applicants had until Friday June 5 to enroll in a vocational training center. Once this step had been completed, the Integrated Health and Social Services Center (CISSS) contacted them for an initial telephone interview.
They were then asked a questionnaire on their state of health based on a document from the National Institute of Public Health (INSPQ), the “Interim Recommendations for the Protection of Workers with Chronic Diseases”.
In this document, it is recommended that workers suffering from uncontrolled chronic diseases, pathologies associated with respiratory problems or obesity “significant (for information, BMI equal to or greater than 40)” are exposed as little as possible to patients having contracted COVID-19.
Was this directive enforced the same way everywhere? The Department of Health was unable to say on Friday, the hiring fell to the CIUSSS and not the department.
On the side of the unions which represent the attendants to the beneficiaries, we found the situation paradoxical to say the least Friday. “We have had serious problems since the start of the health emergency to remove personnel with really aggravating conditions,” said Jeff Begley, president of the Federation of Health and Social Services (FSSS-CSN). “If the refused person has all the qualities necessary to do the job and is refused on the sole basis of being overweight, it seems obvious that the action of the employer is questionable, especially taking into account his actions since the start of the pandemic. “
As for Melina Dubois Sorgente, she would have liked to be given a chance. With only two pounds less, she would have been eligible. “I can lose weight by mid-September,” she said. I had a child a year and a half ago. I’m used to working on my feet and I have no trouble climbing stairs. She maintains that she does not have diabetes and that she previously worked as a cashier (standing) and as a salesperson in a big box store.
Launched in late May by the Legault government, the new program aims to hire 10,000 new beneficiary attendants by offering them paid training at $ 21 an hour and guaranteed employment of $ 49,000 per year starting in the fall . Over 70,000 people have applied.