Employees of the CIUSSS du Nord-de-l'Île-de-Montréal received a gift from the health authority when they got to work this week: a white t-shirt with the outline of the territory they cover in a solid bright colour.
Next to it, a tongue-in-cheek attempt to describe what the outline looks like: A squirrel? A bunny? A beaver?
"It looks like an assault rifle to me," said one Facebook user, after the campaign was derided on a page that pokes fun at health care gaffes in the province.
The gift though, wasn't funny to some.
"Considering the working conditions, the lack of consideration and acknowledgement from the government and the employer, this is the biggest insult," said one CIUSSS du Nord employee, who spoke to CBC News under the condition her name remain confidential, over fears of losing her position.
"Everyone is outraged, as you can imagine."
She's not alone.
"When I received the shirt, I was so insulted but I also found it so absurd that I laughed," said another employee, who also did not want her name revealed.
"It's a bad leadership strategy in my opinion, particularly for the employees who work without recognition daily and are pushed to the limit."
T-shirts part of recruitment campaign, says CIUSSS du Nord
According to the CIUSSS du Nord, the communications team put together the graphics and 14,000 t-shirts were printed in all for a total cost of $75,000.
The back of the shirts feature an outline of the island of Montreal with the regional health authority's territory highlighted. Next to it, is the address for the recruitment campaign's site: justeici.ca.
"This initiative aims to strengthen the feeling of belonging among CIUSSS du Nord employees and encourage the hiring of new employees," said Séléna Champagne, a spokesperson for the health authority.
The Quebec government has launched massive recruitment campaigns in an attempt to get more workers for the healthcare system. The CIUSSS du Nord alone is seeking to recruit 800 workers.
The province has offered financial bonuses and bursaries, and has also accelerated some training programs in an attempt to sweeten the pot.
The t-shirts though, aren't the way to do it, some employees say.
"There is no staff attraction and retention strategy, many employees are on sick leave and not replaced, which increases the workload," one of the employees told CBC.
"We are exhausted. Receiving an animal t-shirt to cheer us on and praise our hard work is very childish and the last thing we needed."