At the CSN,

Feeling out of breath? In need of a friendly ear? Afraid of losing control? At the CSN, you’re never alone. If you are suffering and feeling discouraged, our support networks are there to help. It’s reassuring to be able to count on colleagues who are listening and who can refer us to the appropriate resources. It’s our duty as a union.

Need help?

Here are some options:

1. Talk to a peer helper

The CSN’s peer helpers are trained to welcome you, listen to you, and help you find effective help. Check with your union to find out who to talk to.

2. Consult your company’s or organization’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), if it has one.

Although offered by the employer, these services are confidential and may provide temporary help to restore your wellbeing. These programs sometimes offer services through various professionals and thus may vary from one location to another. Do not hesitate to ask around – they are sure to have something for you.

3. See a doctor

A trusted family doctor is a health care professional who can diagnose and treat physical and psychological health conditions. If you have a doctor available, they can certainly help you.

4. Call Info-santé or Info-sociale (811)

If you have health concerns, a resource person can advise you on how to approach your situation as safely as possible. Dial 811 to reach Info-Santé or Info-Sociale.

What are mutual aid networks?


A support network of trained peer helpers, known as “mutual aid providers.” Mutual aid providers are concerned with quality of life, providing help, and promoting solidarity among colleagues.

Mutual aid providers are…
Conscientious, attentive to others, and to their work environment. They are familiar with institutional and community resources and will, when necessary, refer colleagues experiencing difficulties to these resources. Mutual aid providers are a reassuring presence in your workplace, always available and nearby.

They may be of invaluable assistance, for example, to persons experiencing psychological distress or problems associated with mental health, alcoholism or drug addiction, domestic violence, or problems in returning to work.


Whether due to personal or professional difficulties, everyone experiences difficult times in their life.

The CSN supports and promotes the development of mutual aid networks in the workplace. In 2010, the union instituted a National Day of Caring, held every February 2.

Ten benefits of having a mutual aid network:

  1. Helps improve psychological health and quality of life in the workplace in a spirit of solidarity.
  2. Strengthens social supports – a powerful protective factor for psychological health.
  3. Makes assistance more accessible, being based on equal relationships among peers.
  4. Detects distress signs proactively and acts quickly, before a person’s situation can deteriorate.
  5. Complements and promotes the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  6. Creates meaningful and collaborative relationships.
  7. Fosters positive connections between people, recognizing and respecting differences.
  8. Supports those who are experiencing difficulties.
  9. Makes your work environment a more humane place.
  10. Suggests ways to discuss issues in the workplace.

Starting a mutual aid network


1. Contact the mutual aid leader in your area, who can provide information and support. See the list of leaders by region.

2. Identify the mutual aid committee representative on your union’s Executive Committee. Their role is to serve as a link between the Executive Committee and the Mutual Aid Committee, which is comprised of mutual aid providers.

3. Recruit the local caregivers. Try various recruitment avenues: general meetings, union newsletter, bulletin boards, approaching people in your community directly who serve in similar roles, etc.

4. Access training adapted to your needs and those of your community. A short training session is available on basic techniques (detecting, approaching, listening, and referring), assistance resources, and implementation of the network. The representative responsible for mutual aid in your region can help you identify your training needs and inform you of the available options.

5. Develop an action plan. The representatives in charge of the Executive Committee and the Mutual Aid Committee can develop an action plan according to the local situation and the various resources at their disposal. Training is available to provide guidance.

6. Take action in the workplace by implementing the action plan.


    Below is a list of regional representatives from the CSN’s thirteen Regional Councils.

      Dany Dénommé 819-629-1772

        Daniel Lamoureux 418-723-7817

          Cœur du Québec
          Isabelle Gélinas 819-378-2823

            Guillaume Tremblay 418-589-2608

              Julie Bolduc 819-563-6515

                Jules Richard 418-689-2294

                  Olivier Bécu 450-759-0763

                    Martin Richer 450-438-4197

                      Jonathan Paradis-Lapointe 450-466-2801

                        Montréal Metropolitan Area
                        Vincent Masson 514-598-2222

                          Nicole Dupuis 819-643-8709

                            François Proulx-Duperré 418-647-5801

                              Saguenay–Lac  St-Jean
                              Pierre Morel 418-669-1349


                                Available Training Courses

                                Mutual Aid Network 

                                This course is offered by the CSN over two non-consecutive days. It allows participants to acquire the listening and support skills needed to help coworkers experiencing psychosocial problems such as drug addiction, mental health, violence, and more. The course also aims to structure the implementation of a mutual aid network adapted to the realities of the workplace. Contact the responsible representative at your Regional Council for more information.

                                Mental Health and Work Structures

                                This course allows participants to develop their expertise in the prevention of psychological health problems in the workplace, and to identify risk factors in work structures. Participants will learn how to propose a union approach that uses prevention to safeguard psychological health in the workplace. The course lasts two days. Visit your federation’s website to find out about upcoming training dates.

                                Violence and Harassment in the Workplace

                                This two-day training course covers basic notions of violence and harassment in the workplace and demystifies the various relevant concepts. Tools for prevention and support are discusses, together with the various legal recourses, in order to plan prevention, intervention, and follow-up strategies for the workplace. Visit your federation’s website to find out about upcoming training dates.

                                Violence and Harassment Prevention, Level II

                                This two-day course complements the above violence and harassment prevention session. It focuses on policy analysis, the union’s role in intervention, and the importance of positioning oneself to be effective in resolving complaints and harassment issues. Visit your federation’s website for upcoming training dates.


                                  Directory of community, public, and para-public services available in each region:

                                    SUPPORT AND MUTUAL AID RESOURCES

                                    Info-santé and Info-sociale (non-urgent health issues)
                                    Telephone: 811

                                    Parental helpline
                                    Telephone: 1 800 361-5085

                                    Tel-Jeunes (youth helpline)
                                    Telephone: 1 800 263 2266

                                    Tel-Aide (mental health and distress helpline – locate your regional coordinates on the website)

                                    Domestic Violence
                                    Telephone: 1 800 363-9010

                                    Suicide Prevention
                                    Telephone: 1 866 APPELLE or 277-3553

                                    Écoute-entraide (supportive listening groups)
                                    Tekephone: 1 855 365 4463

                                    Association des centres d’écoute téléphoniques du Québec (Québec Association of Telephone Support Helplines – locate your regional coordinates on the website):

                                    Sexual and Gender Diversity
                                    Telephone: 1 888 505-1010

                                      SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND ADDICTION

                                      Drug use – assistance and referral
                                      Telephone: 1 800 265-2626

                                      Gambling – assistance and referral
                                      Telephone: 1 800 461-0140

                                        Mental health

                                        Réseau Avant de craquer (network of community groups offering mental health support)
                                        1 855 272 7837

                                        Association québécoise des parents et amis de la personne atteinte de maladie mentale (AQPAMM – Québec association for family and friends of persons living with mental health issues)

                                        Mouvement santé mentale Québec (mental health resources for all areas of life)

                                        Mental Health Commission of Canada


                                        FAQ: MUTUAL AID NETWORKS

                                        How long is the required training?

                                        The basic classroom course session is two non-consecutive days. An online version will be available until COVID-19 health measures are lifted. Please contact your regional mutual aid representative for registration information.

                                        What is the role of the regional representative for mutual aid network development?

                                        The support of the regional representative can take the form of:

                                        • Follow-up meetings with the Mutual Aid Committee to support the establishment and maintenance of the network
                                        • Training sessions on mutual aid
                                        • Thematic meetings on themes identified in your workplace: suicide, violence, alcoholism, etc.
                                        • Organization of complementary training activities for mutual aid providers
                                        • Production and distribution of content or resources on various topics of interest
                                        • Connecting the networks in your region or with external resources (professional, community, and institutional)
                                        • And more.
                                        What is the role of the Executive Committee?

                                        To support and facilitate implementation of the mutual aid network and the activities of mutual aid providers. In doing so, the Executive Committee is responding to the need to provide supports for members experiencing difficulties and thereby plays an important role in preventing psychosocial workplace harms.

                                        There is already an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in my workplace. How would a mutual aid network be relevant?

                                        Mutual aid providers’ knowledge of the workplace can identify members who are experiencing difficulties, sometimes long before a person’s situation is bad enough that they are motivated to contact the EAP themselves. By listening empathetically and providing support, caregivers can help the person become aware of their difficulties more quickly. Early intervention can often also prevent work stoppages. A mutual aid network is thus a complement to the Employee Assistance Program, although its activities take place well upstream of it.

                                        Does my employer need to be aware of, and agree to, the Mutual Aid Network’s activities?

                                        Since most of the network’s activities take place in the workplace, it is helpful when the employer is in agreement with implementation of network supports. In general, the mutual aid workers’ activities demand only a few minutes per week. However, in the event that an employer is in complete disagreement, a network can still be set up on a union-only basis. It is important to ensure that peer helpers respect workplace rules in carrying out their activities so that they do not become a point of contention between union and employer. In this eventuality, consult the mutual aid representative in your region, who will be able to help you find ways of proceeding that are appropriate to the situation.

                                        Can the network be a joint initiative?

                                        Many employers recognize the benefits of a mutual aid network. More and more support networks are operated jointly, and some are contracted. Among other things, this allows for sharing of the costs and responsibilities related to mutual aid activities. The creation of a joint mutual aid committee also provides an effective platform for addressing specific workplace issues and proposing awareness activities. Should you wish to present a mutual aid solution to your employer, your regional mutual aid representative can assist and accompany you. You can also find collective agreement language on mutual aid in the RESOURCES section.

                                        What is the role of the mutual aid provider?

                                        The mutual aid provider offers peer-to-peer assistance to individuals in a confidential manner:

                                        • Identifies people experiencing difficulties
                                        • Approaches these people or welcomes requests for help
                                        • Listens
                                        • Refers to recognized resources
                                        • Operates in the work environment
                                        • Is attentive to the work environment and shares observations with their union, as necessary
                                        • Participates in awareness-building activities in the workplace
                                        Who can become a mutual aid provider?

                                        Anyone who wants to get involved and has some of the following basic qualities or skills:

                                        • Outgoing, caring attitude
                                        • Ability to listen
                                        • Discretion
                                        Is confidentiality important?

                                        Confidentiality is the cornerstone of mutual aid. Persons selected to become mutual aid providers must fully understand and adhere to the principle of confidentiality, which is integral to this role. Without confidentiality, the trust necessary for the network’s success cannot be built, and the network’s sustainability is compromised.

                                        What are the conditions required for successful implementation of a mutual aid network?
                                        • Interest and motivation
                                        • Confidentiality
                                        • Executive Committee support and collaboration
                                        • Participation and commitment on the part of persons involved, while respecting people’s abilities and availability
                                        • Collaboration, respect, and discussion
                                        How much time will I have to devote to this role? Do I have to be available at all times?

                                        This depends on the individual, but the role generally demands only a few minutes each week. Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. Providers must be aware of their own limits, and availability may be limited to work hours or extended beyond them, depending on the provider’s situation. The training session includes time to reflect upon and discuss these issues, so that you can assess your own needs regarding this very personal question.

                                        How can I contribute to the network without taking part in face-to-face assistance?

                                        Some may experience hearing out the private concerns of others to be uncomfortable. But a person may have other qualities and skills which can also help the Mutual Aid Committee in its work:

                                        • Ability to work in and with a team
                                        • Positive leadership qualities (positive attitude, avoidance of gossip, a conciliatory, nonconfrontational attitude, leading by example)
                                        • Organizational skills (organizing kiosk on mental health issues, writing articles for the union newsletter, leading Mutual Aid Committee meetings, suggesting promotional activities for the network)
                                        • Public speaking skills (presenting on mutual aid at a general meeting, meeting with the employer to request permission for displays or activities)
                                        • Good written communication skills (writing articles for the union newsletter, putting together a resource directory)
                                        • Knowledge of social media (managing a Facebook page, starting a confidential Messenger group)
                                        I want to set up a mutual aid network, but some members of the Executive Committee are reluctant. How can I convince them?

                                        There are various advantages to having a mutual aid network. Get in touch with your regional mutual aid representative, whose role is to accompany and support you in the process of implementing a mutual aid network. Together, you can determine the best approach for encouraging your Executive Committee to consider the many advantages of a mutual aid network.

                                        Are mutual aid providers required to report on their work?

                                        Confidentiality is one of the basic principles of mutual aid. This means that notes containing personal information should be stored securely and destroyed as soon as possible. However, it is recommended that providers keep anonymous records of interventions and that an annual report be submitted to the Mutual Aid Committee or the Executive Committee, depending on the structure in place. Such reporting, combined with an action plan, permits the Mutual Aid Committee to evaluate the situation and to assess needs related to mutual aid. You can find an example of a reporting sheet in the RESOURCES section.

                                        Outils à télécharger

                                        Que ce soit pour faire la promotion de l’entraide, de votre réseau d’entraidantes et d’entraidants, ou de sensibiliser vos membres sur différentes thématiques, plusieurs outils sont disponibles.

                                          Promotion de l’entraide

                                          Développement du réseau d'entraide




                                          Détresse chez les jeunes


                                          Santé psychologique au travail

                                          Violence et harcèlement

                                          Violence conjugale

                                          Outils pour les entraidantes et les entraidants