SEIU-West continues to be there for you during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Our top priority is the health and safety of our members, their families, their patients/residents/clients and communities.

We have created this page as a central location for SEIU-West communications and resources related to COVID-19. This page will be updated regularly as the situation evolves, based on the best information available.

Quick Links:

If you have any questions not answered by the resources listed or linked on this page, please use our online contact form to ask questions or call our Member Resource Centre at 1-888-999-7348 ext. 2298.

NOTE: We are not a medical resource. Please contact 811 for medical/health related questions.

If you are looking for community resources, please contact 211 or visit their website www.sk.211.ca.

Joint Media Release: Health Care provider unions call for COVID-19 wage top-up

For Immediate Release, May 7, 2020

(SASKATCHEWAN) The unions representing health care providers in Saskatchewan are calling for the Premier to follow in the footsteps of almost every other jurisdiction in Canada and provide a wage top-up for health care workers.

Health Care Provider Unions Letter to Premier- Pandemic Pay

The Health Care Provider Unions have discussed strategies for fair and equitable recognition pay for members of the health care team who are demonstrating dedicated service during COVID19 which involves personal risk and sacrifice.  This letter was sent to Premier Moe by the Unions today.

 

May 4, 2020

Honourable Scott Moe

Premier of Saskatchewan

226 Legislative Building

Regina, Saskatchewan

CANADA S4S 0B3

 

Dear Mr. Premier,

We write to you on behalf of the front line health care providers who have been at the forefront of the work being done to flatten the curve of infection with the COVID-19 pandemic. They have displayed an incredible amount of professionalism and courage in continuing the day to day work in this battle that benefits all Saskatchewan residents. Many have called them ‘heroes’, but we know they are heroes every day, not only during this pandemic.

In Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, provincial governments have deemed additional pay for those working in acute care, long term care, personal care homes, community and home care. For the anxiety and stress; for the personal sacrifice they make daily to reduce the risk of COVID at work and home; for the extra work and long, hot hours to ensure the safety of our patients, clients, residents and staff; for the lack of information and the ever changing policy directives; for being there to care, to serve, when visitors and family are not able. There is an incredibly diverse group of people who are keeping health care running and ensuring that we are not overwhelmed by the pandemic.

Mr. Premier, you have acknowledged these health care providers in your provincial address. Today we ask you to step forward to lead again. As we reopen the province, we cannot ignore the work that has happened, and continues to happen to keep the province safe. For all health care providers, we ask that you acknowledge this incredible team with ‘recognition pay’ or a wage top up.

  • Medical and Diagnostic Technologists and assistants complete tests that identify not only COVID-19 but other diseases and pathogens that are still affecting our population: cancer, HIV, MRI, CT, and seasonal flu are among their tests. 
  • Licensed Practical Nurses provide dressing changes, dispense medications, work in operating rooms and emergency rooms, long-term care and home care to provide compassionate hands-on skilled care to our patients, clients and residents.
  • Continuing Care Assistants work in acute care, long term care, and home care providing hands on services like dressing, bathing, medications, lifting and repositioning with care and compassion. 
  • Recreation and Physical Therapy who continually work to lift up the spirits of residents and give them some much needed distraction as well as something to look forward to each day.
  • Security, maintenance, tradespeople and Information Technologists continue to keep our facilities running efficiently, to set up COVID units in hospitals across the province and keeping staff and patients safe.
  • Food services prepare and provide nutritious meals to patients, long-term care residents and homecare recipients. 
  • Environmental services staff perform enhanced cleaning to ensure that our facilities do not harbor and are not a vector for transmission of any virus.
  • Administration staff keep every part of the health system connected and communicating which is critically important at this time – this includes ward and department support, payroll, finance, health information, and schedulers who work in acute care, long-term care, home care, community care and primary care to ensure that our facilities are staffed and paid properly to provide the skilled professional care that is key to all health care services.
  • Of particular note are those working in supply chain, materials management, and sterile processing who ensure that we have the health care materials and resources, such as Personal Protective Equipment and supplies, necessary to keep us all safe and to provide quality healthcare that Saskatchewan residents have come to expect.

It is with pride we acknowledge that there are over 42,000 front line staff who are part of the ‘health care team’…across CUPE, SGEU, SEIU-West, SUN, and HSAS. We are very proud of the work that front line health care workers perform every day and believe they are heroes not only during this pandemic, but every day of the year.

On behalf of these caring health providers, we ask that you take a moment to acknowledge the varied work that is being performed under some incredibly tense and stressful circumstances. They go into work every day, not sure if they will come into contact with COVID-19 or if they will take it home with them to their families. Yet, they continue to show up and lead our health care system. They do this for their patients, clients and residents. We believe their efforts and commitment are worthy of recognition, don’t you?

We look forward to your earliest reply.

Barbara Cape
President, SEIU-West

Tracey Sauer
Bargaining Chair, SGEU
Health Providers

Sandra Seitz
President, CUPE 5430

 

Cc:      Jim Reiter, Minister of Health
Warren Keading, Minister of Rural and Remote Health
Scott Livingstone, CEO Saskatchewan Health authority

 

Click here to download a printable PDF file of Health Care Provider Unions Letter to Premier- Pandemic Pay

Media Release: Health and Safety Week: Personal Protective Equipment

For Immediate Release, May 5, 2020

Saskatoon – Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Week has significant meaning for the members and leaders of SEIU-West in 2020.

OH&S and Mental Health Week, 2020

SEIU-West recognizes Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Week from May 3-9 and Mental Health Week from May 4-10, two areas of particular importance as we face the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s understandable that many of us are struggling with our mental health these days – the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our daily lives and caused global grief and anxiety amongst our communities – so SEIU-West has developed this Mental Health Support During COVID-19 page in order to reassure you that you’re not alone, and that there are many resources that can help you during this challenging time.

On our Mental Health page, you’ll find resources in support of maintaining physical distancing while still being social (hello, Zoom!), mutual aid groups, Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP) information, as well as many free 24/7 call lines and websites available to those wanting mental health support. For example, the Canadian Mental Health Association now has a Saskatchewan-wide wellness support line for each community – visit this link for more information.

We have also launched our OH&S resources page – on this page, you’ll find valuable information on your rights at work, a descriptive step-by-step guide on your right to refuse, workload, Worker Safety Committee information, and Occupational Health Committee (OHC) information. On our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, you’ll also find information about personal protective equipment (PPE) and other safety-related questions.

President Barb Cape has been sharing important safety information as well – check out her a sample of her President’s Message videos below:

Statistics Canada has recently shared a survey in relation to COVID-19 and your mental health – we encourage you to participate here.

The two recognition weeks of Mental Health Week and OH&S week go hand in hand because we know that mental health is an OH&S issue. Remember, if you need support in these areas, be sure to contact our Member Resource Centre at 1.888.999.7348 ext. 2298 or use the contact form.

 

President's Message: May 1, 2020

Listen and watch the latest President's Message from Barbara Cape! This week, she discusses the vital work of those who work and support Medical Laboratory Technologists (MLT) in recognition of MLT Week. Barb also recognizes May Day, discusses new COVID-19 modeling numbers, and shares information around our Frontline Heroes series - check it out: 

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) External Resources

SEIU-West continues to be there for you during the COVID-19 crisis. Our top priority is the health and safety of our members, their families, their patients/residents/clients and communities. Below are links to some COVID-19 resources that may be useful for you.

Please Note: SEIU-West is not responsible for the content of these external sites - we are sharing information ONLY.

May Day, 2020

May Day, 2020

May 1st is International Workers’ Day, a day to recognize, celebrate, and demonstrate workers’ historic and ongoing struggles. It symbolizes the common struggles of the working class.

Historically, May 1st signifies the gains workers achieved in the late 19th century in North America. Workers were faced with unsafe working environments and long hours which led to workplace injuries and fatalities. Fed up with these unjust conditions, workers fought back to demand a shorter work day with no cut in pay. Thousands of workers took to the streets and many workers lost their lives in this effort.

When we think about the people who put their lives on the line for the rights we enjoy today, we realize that we cannot take anything we’ve gained for granted. So we should not only celebrate but recognize that there is an urgent need for us to keep up the fight for our rights today – and this is the case now, more than ever.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the fact that it’s not CEOs or bosses that make the world go ‘round, it’s actually workers.

It is the front line workers who produce the products and provide the services we all rely on. And it is during this health pandemic that we truly see what our societies need to prioritize in order to function: health care, education, community services, child care, food services…the list goes on.

While many of the workers who work in these essential services are proclaimed to be the heroes that SEIU-West already knows they are, the fact is, the support these workers need from their employers and governments are not in place.

Whether it be the lack of clear communication from employers, the years of underfunding to our public services, the lack of safety supplies due to cutbacks, or the low wages that lead to multiple jobs just to make ends meet – it’s clear our governments, employers and decision-makers need to put workers first, and not their bottom line.

This May Day, SEIU-West encourages you to not only thank workers for their incredible services, but to also write to your elected officials about the need for supports such as: a living wage, paid sick leave, a robust social safety net, affordable child care and housing, accessible public transit and particularly right now, comprehensive personal protective equipment (PPE) for all workers.

There are also May Day events you can join, such as Labour Notes’ webinar, May Day: System In Crisis—A Working-Class Vision for the Future.

We hope you have a safe and healthy May Day!

Letter to the Premier- Valerie Francais

To the Honorable Premier of Saskatchewan:

Premier Moe, please allow me to tell you a little about myself.  I was born and raised here in Saskatchewan.  My Great-Grandfather settled in this province back in 1904, and I am the 4th of 6 generations living here on the Prairies.  For nearly 20 years, I have worked as a Continuing Care Assistant, with the past 2 of them being at one of the three hospitals in Saskatoon. 

It is a profession that has given me the ability to care for people from different walks of life with compassion, empathy and without judgement.  I give everything I have to help improve the quality of life for so many individuals, sometimes as a thankless job, but also as one that I find to be very rewarding.  COVID -19 has turned everything upside down.

I love my job.  Its challenges, the people I meet…   The people I work with… let me tell you, they are absolutely the best.  We support each other.  We care about one another.  And let me tell you how heartbreaking it was for me, that I could not hug any of them after returning from a bereavement leave, to attend my mother’s funeral back in March.

I have never had the time to properly grieve her passing.  I think about those who I work with that are on compassionate leave and wonder how they are coping, not being able to work so that they can be with their ailing parents.  I loved the idea of coming to work, knowing that today was not going to be the same as yesterday.  I welcomed the challenge to face each new day and what it had to throw my way.  COVID-19 changed all that.

Now, not knowing what is in store when I walk through the screening process is like walking into a lion’s den.  But I am there to work as a team player, working alongside my nurses, manager and educators to implement and plan new strategies, procedures and practices that will ensure the health and safety of all those patients who are vulnerable, as well as ensuring that the staffs are protected to the best of our ability. 

At times I feel like a specimen under a microscope as support staff watch and scrutinize as I donn and doff PPE.  But I know they are there to make sure we as staff are following the procedures necessary to optimize infection control measures.  Sometimes I wonder if the pain I feel in my chest is just my allergies flaring up, or if it is a symptom of the virus.  So off I go to check my temp, as self-monitoring is drilled into my head constantly. 

No other symptoms present, so I chalk it all up to the level of stress and anxiety that I feel when individuals affected with COVID-19 come for their scheduled treatments. 

At the end of my 12-hour shift, and I remove my mandatory face mask for the final time, after changing it several times throughout the day, it is like a cool breeze hitting my skin.  I change my clothes before leaving and climb into my vehicle to go straight home.  No stopping at the store, no stopping for a bite to eat… straight home. Through the door and straight for the bathroom where I strip and climb into the shower. 

No amount of water can wash the grime, the violation that COVID-19 leaves on my skin.  No amount of soap makes me feel clean.  No hello to my husband.  My dog sits outside the bathroom door and whines because he wants me to play with him.  But safety comes first.  I forgot what it feels like to sleep in the same bed as my husband, because social distancing has taken on a more heightened level because of where I work.  

I miss hugging my grandson, and the last time I had to spend with him was just before the schools closed down.  That happened immediately following my mother’s funeral.  I can’t help but wonder over the past few weeks if he has been keeping up with his school work online.  I miss seeing him, talking to him face to face, and seeing how much he has grown. 

I guess what I am trying to get at is that there have been countless sacrifices I, along with so many healthcare workers have made in order to help flatten the curve and stop the spread of  COVID-19.  And while you go forth to re-open this province through the various phases outlined, there will be a countless number of healthcare employees who will be making the sacrifices of keeping our hospitals, care homes and other healthcare facilities operational under the strictest of infection control practices.

Our hands will continue to be chapped, cracked and raw from the heightened task of thorough handwashing measures. 

We will continue to practice an increased sense of social distancing out of fear of bringing our families and friends in contact with this virus.  We will continue to show up for work under increased levels of stress, anxiety and uncertainty. 

We will continue our fight and commitment to help flatten the curve.  We will continue to feel the affects of COVID-19 long after all the restrictions of Phase 5 of your “Let’s reopen Saskatchewan” plan has been lifted.  We will continue to make Saskatchewan one of the greatest places on Earth to live and work. 

With all due respect, Mr. Premier, as you lay your head to pillow tonight, alongside your wife, please think of us, your driving force in stopping COVID-19. We are the employees represented under the SEIU-West Union, who have worked without a contract for the past 3 years. 

As my husband now returns to work after his temporary lay off, please remember that I, along with my union brothers and sisters, have not received a pay increase in the past 4 years. 

Your bargaining committee proposed for us to take a 3.5% roll back on top of things. Please note the added stress of having my husband home for an indefinite period of time, and having us put into a situation where we were forced to make budget cuts and reduction in spending. 

Eating Mac and Cheese for supper became a staple in our home. Please think of those who have put themselves up in a hotel room, instead of going home to their families.  So I implore you to please encourage your bargaining committee to consider returning to the bargaining table to negotiate for a fair and just collective agreement. 

We  put our lives on hold for so many others.  We are what makes this province great.  Treat us fairly for all that we do in the name of humanity, in the name of compassion.

Sincerely, an employee of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, a member of SEIU-West, a resident in the Province of Saskatchewan, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother,

 

Valerie Francais.

Letter to the Premier- Lisa Zunti

Dear Premier Moe,

I am a LPN health care provider at an urban hospital – I would like to hear from you whether you truly recognize the valued efforts of health care workers. It appears in other provinces members of the health care team are receiving shows of appreciation through added premiums, bonuses or wage increases.

My last wage increase was April 1, 2016. I know that you and other MLAs have received approximately 4% salary increases in the last 2 years so as to keep up with inflation. Did you know that health care workers have to manage inflation on stagnant rates of pay?

I understand (from my union) that we have been unable to get any reasonable offer from SAHO in the last year. So what is your government prepared to do to retain health care workers in the middle of a pandemic when we so badly need front line workers?

Thanks for your reply.

Lisa Zunti

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