Workers Report Initial Gains in Protecting Long-Term Care Residents
On April 17, the Canadian Union of Public Employees
(CUPE) Saskatchewan reported that after weeks of pressure from CUPE and
other health care unions, the Government of Saskatchewan has finally
announced a continuous masking policy for health care providers, and a
transition to single site employment for workers in acute and
long-term care. This move puts in place protections for the at most
risk demographic: long-term care residents.
care homes have been at the centre of major COVID-19 outbreaks in other
provinces and account for the majority of deaths attributed to the
virus," says CUPE Local 5430 President Sandra Seitz. "Halting
multi-site work will help stop the spread of COVID-19 by limiting
movement between seniors' care facilities."
The communiqué points out that COVID-19 has
placed a spotlight on some of the most serious issues in health care:
underfunding and short staffing.
"Staffing levels in long-term care have been inadequate
for years. COVID-19 has exacerbated this issue, and our members are
working short staffed more often than not," said Seitz. "Physical
distancing protocols such as in room dining for residents and increased
cleaning requirements means we need more staff, not less."
"The continuous masking policy is a start, but the
government needs to take steps to ensure that it is being implemented
across the health care sector, and all community-based services," said
The press release also informs that CUPE 5430 has
secured a Letter of Understanding (LOU) protecting its members during
redeployment. The LOU lays out the following protections for workers
- Prevent workers from working in multiple facilities while maintaining their guaranteed hours.
- Create a labour pool for redeployment to respond to
COVID-19 health care needs within clearly established parameters that
protect the public and the workers.
- For the duration of the agreement, there will be no new layoffs.
- Employees who have been redeployed will be protected from incurring expenses, including accommodation where required.
- All redeployed employees will be provided with
orientation and training fitting with the situation at the receiving
site, which includes orientation and training to the required personal
protective equipment (PPE) and provision of said PPE prior to
"We have seen a significant rise in precarious work in
our health care system. Many of our members are forced to work multiple
jobs, across jurisdictions, to cobble together full-time equivalency
work," said Seitz. "This LOU will offer some protections to our members
who are facing changes in the work environment from COVID-19."
This article was published in
Number 25 - April 24, 2020
Saskatchewan: Workers Report Initial Gains in Protecting Long-Term Care Residents