Immersion in the heart of the distress of Quebecers

The hotlines are not running, the COVID-19 crisis pushing new people into loneliness or distress. The newspaper had exclusive access to calls received by a listener for the evening.

“Today, I toured the Quebec listening lines. I couldn’t be alone, “said a tired voice.

“I spent the day catching all the life buoys I could. “

If you doubt the appropriateness of the hotlines, just hear a single call like that to change your mind.

In order to access this box of
Pandora, the representative of Newspaper was given a lightning training in active listening with Jonathan Brazeau, of Écoute Entraide, an organization that offers a telephone support service for all.

It was therefore possible to hear the calls and return with him to fully understand each of his interventions, as do the apprentice volunteers.

“The federal government has not helped people like me,” said a woman on the phone. There, there remains a week in May. I think I will be able to keep control of my credit card, “she hopes.

The virus stains everything

During the evening, six people spoke to Mr. Brazeau, for more than half an hour in some cases. Of the six callers, four mentioned the health crisis. Often, the virus and its consequences are at the heart of their concerns.

“I haven’t been out since [la mi-mars] Sighs a man.

Again, the weariness is noticeable behind his courteous tone.

“The anxiety in the morning, the fear … Information is a big blow to me every time,” said the man, who clings to the fact that the number of dead tends to decrease.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Association of Quebec Listening Centers has observed a 25% increase in calls received by its members and 40% in web traffic.

“It’s considerable,” says coordinator Pierre Plourde.

From panic to isolation

” In the beginning [de la crise], people were really stressed. You felt panic in all the calls, ”says Mr. Brazeau.

Then stress gave way to isolation.

People who have never used this service now turn to him to relieve their loneliness.

“It may be nice outside, I find the time long,” says a man who is struggling to find a lover in this context.

“The beautiful temperature does not replace human heat. “

“I’m going to put on my sneakers and take a walk.” It’s going to kill a little bit of time, ”he adds.

Since calls to a hotline are confidential, all information that could reveal the identities of the callers has been removed.

Touching extracts


“There was a click in my head: I don’t take this anymore, this abuse,” says a woman in a determined tone. She can’t take the hurtful words from her partner anymore.

“Is that it, verbal abuse? How to assess this? “

Nothing in this call suggests that COVID-19 plays a role in history. But with the crisis, “there are a lot of couple bickering,” notes coordinator Jonathan Brazeau.

Later, a man recounts that his spouse left him a few weeks ago and quickly became a couple with someone else.

“I love him like crazy. I can see more clearly. […] I just want to go and change my door “for explanations.

But the fact of speaking to Mr. Brazeau “calm”, he admits.


“This damn virus comes from China. That’s why we’re stuck with that, ”said one of the callers.

Another begins to criticize US President Donald Trump.

Behind these digressions, we feel a need to chat, to share what lives in everyday life.

Rather than embarking on a current affairs debate, Mr. Brazeau gently brings the person back to where they are going.

“The goal is to let it express itself”, while guiding it, he explains.


“I find it really difficult, life,” says a woman on the phone.

Several callers are struggling with chronic mental health issues, says Brazeau. Some are regulars in support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Many of these activities are on hiatus due to the pandemic.

As for those who are followed by a social worker or a psychiatrist, they sometimes need more than one weekly meeting.

“The help line fills in all the holes that remain,” says the Help Desk Coordinator.


The last call of the evening reveals total loneliness. A lady who resents an acquaintance who has stopped talking to her.

” That makes me sick. It’s like she put me in the trash. “

As the words go by, we come to understand that she has lost her only friend. That she frequented her to be a little less “all alone”.

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