Dozens of polling stations face labor shortages

Dozens of polling stations face labor shortages

With less than two days to go before the election, a dozen Ridings in Quebec are short of polling station staff.

Posted at 4:57pm


Delphine Belzile

Delphine Belzile The press

Henri Ouellette-Vezina

Henri Ouellette-Vézina La Presse

Dany Lapointe, spokesman for the Chief Electoral Officer of Quebec (DGEQ), confirmed on Saturday that the organization is short of staff at a dozen meetings. On Friday, this was already the case in Mont-Royal-Outremont, D’Arcy-McGee, Mégantic, Beauharnois, Hull and Pontiac. Four rides were added to the list on Saturday, namely Huntingdon, Prévost, Terrebonne and Verdun, confirms Dany Lapointe.

Employees have been withdrawing in particular because of COVID-19, he explains. However, the DGEQ stated that in the last few days she only had work problems when riding Laporte.

“We were even able to increase the number of staff in certain Ridings that had more inquiries,” Julie St-Arnaud Drolet, also a spokeswoman for Elections Quebec, said via email.

The DGEQ is aimed at young people

According to Dany Lapointe, there are “approximately sixty” vacancies at Mégantic and Mont-Royal-Outremont, and around fifty at D’Arcy-McGee. Almost 80 employees are also missing in Pontiac and forty in Hull. “We are working to fill the missing positions,” said the spokesman on the subject.

To address this problem, the DGEQ is approving the hiring of staff under the age of 18 this year.

Poll workers can be hired from the age of 16, which expands the pool of candidates and at the same time offers future voters the opportunity to become familiar with the voting process.

Dany Lapointe, DGEQ spokesperson

He recalls that this change “is the result of a recommendation that we have made in recent years and a legislative change adopted last December”. Dany Lapointe specified that a report would be published on the number of young people aged 16 or 17 who were working on election day.

“We have a school in Quebec, the Collège des Compagnons, that will be holding a polling station on Monday. Only young people aged 16 and 17 will work there as vote counters and election secretaries,” the spokesman confirms.

“At the moment we still hope to have all the necessary employees in the offices,” he says. Élections Québec warns upfront that patience may be needed on election day. Indeed, staff shortages could result in long queues at some polling stations.

Resources were hired as “back-ups” should there be staff shortages on D-Day to fill the gaps. Some will therefore learn on Monday whether or not to offer reinforcements, depending on where they are in the province.

With the collaboration of Vincent Larin, La Presse