Michelle Dumouchelle hasn't received a pay cheque from Liberty Assisted Living in a month. ((Steven Bull/CBC))

Workers at La Chaumiere retirement residence in Puce received gift boxes on Friday in lieu of a pay cheque.

Nurses and personal care workers haven't been getting regularly paid by their employer, Liberty Assisted Living, in months, said CAW local 2458, the union representing the staff.

The union's Women's Committee organized the relief effort.

"They have everything for breakfast, lunch, dinner in those gift hampers," said Jan Bedard, head of the Women's Committee. "$25 gift card for meat of their choice, bread. And there was no money spent. It was all donated."

In spite of not receiving regular pay cheques, La Chaumiere's fourty employees still go to work and care for the residents of the privately owned retirement home.

"We're trying to keep our spirits up, but it's tough. They're down," said Renee Lemire, an employee of 19 years.

Financial problems

Lemire says the company has told them it is having financial problems. Workers haven't received a pay cheque in the last month.

Rick Laporte was the recipient of one of those gift boxes.  His wife Sherry works at La Chaumiere. The Laportes will be donating their gift box to a family that needs it more, but he's amazed by the resilience of the workers.

"They are very unique and they are special and I really hope they get through this because it is tough times... and how close it is - never mind other countries - it's right here in Windsor," said Laporte.

The CAW gathered 55 gift hampers for the staff and while those gifts are appreciated, what the workers really want for Christmas is to be paid for the work they've done.

"We want to get paid," said worker Michelle Dumouchelle. "Plain and simple. We just want to get paid, and preferably on a regular basis."