Red Cross workers will stay in Quebec until end of October, Blair says

After helping supply staff to CHSLDs all summer, Tuesday was supposed to be the charitable organization’s last day inside the homes. But after Quebec put in a request for an extension, Public Security Minister Bill Blair said they will stay through October.

After helping supply staff to CHSLDs all summer, Tuesday was supposed to be Red Cross staff's last day

The government wants to help integrate the 10,000 new patient attendants who were trained following last spring's disastrous COVID-19 outbreaks in CHSLDs, due in part to a significant lack of staff.  (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

Red Cross staff will stay in Quebec's long-term care facilities until the end of October, helping short-staffed homes care for residents while helping newly trained staff learned the ropes.

Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced the news on Twitter Tuesday afternoon, the same day that the Red Cross was supposed to pack up and leave after staffing CHSLDs all summer.

"We will always be there to support our most vulnerable," Blair wrote.

"The governments of Canada and Quebec continue to work closely together to ensure the safety of our communities."

A spokesperson for Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault confirmed that a formal request had not been made yet, but it was in the works.

"Our first responsibility is to do everything we can to prepare for a possible second wave," said spokesperson Amélie Paquet in a statement. 

The government wants help integrating 10,000 new patient attendants to work in long-term care homes following last spring's disastrous COVID-19 outbreaks in CHSLDs, Paquet said. Health Minister Christian Dubé says more than 7,000 were trained so far, and he's confident the government will meet its 10,000 target. 

"We are very grateful to the Red Cross for their help and contribution over the past few months," the government statement said. 

More than 600 Red Cross workers are currently working in 25 long-term care homes. 

The Red Cross received $100 million in federal funding to help pay for the mission. 

Pascal Mathieu, vice-president of the Red Cross in Quebec, said Tuesday that the organization is open to staying in CHSLDs longer and that discussions have been ongoing with the federal and provincial governments.

"We were planning for this eventuality, so we will stay as long as needed," Mathieu said. 

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