Even though public health orders have been lifted effective July 11, 2021 in Saskatchewan, we all should remember that the pandemic is not ‘over’.

The reality is there is a portion of the population who are not vaccinated, there are low testing numbers, and there are rising concerns about new COVID Variants, so we need to remain cautious.

At the time of this message being posted, The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) still requires masking in all of their facilities.

The SHA and other employers are working on their reopening plans, as are we, and we will provide updates as they become available. 

For now, the main offices remain closed to the public and anyone entering is required to wear masks and follow office safety protocols, Unit SEIU-West offices must continue to follow the safety guidelines put in place, and we are not holding in-person events.

These measures are being taken with the view to keep our members and staff safe and we will continue to take our guidance from the provincial pandemic reports, recommendations from the World Health Organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

These next days and weeks will be freeing without the requirement to wear masks in public.  

However, we recommend that you do an assessment of the risks before you go without your mask:

  • Are you vaccinated?
  • Are you in a location with large groups of people?
  • Has there been any recent outbreaks in the area/location?

We will keep our COVID webpage live and updated as we make efforts to implement a cautious return to normal operations in our offices.

Members are invited to use our website contact form with any alerts or concerns over the coming weeks and months.

SEIU-West Presents: Ask Dr Kyle Anderson

On Thursday April 1, 2021 SEIU-West hosted a question and answer session about the direction and handling of the COVID pandemic in Saskatchewan with University of Saskatchewan microbiology and immunology professor Dr. Kyle Anderson.

You can watch the full-length video by clicking here, or watch and share these bite-sized vignettes from our YouTube channel playlist.

Check back with this page regularly for updated videos and information from Dr. Kyle.

 

 

Media Release: Health Care Workers and COVID Vaccination - What Moe Doesn’t Know

 

Health Care Workers and COVID Vaccination: What Moe Doesn’t Know

March 24, 2021

Saskatoon, Sask – SEIU-West members are shocked and angered by Premier Scott Moe’s misleading claims about the ability and willingness of health care workers (HCWs) to receive a COVID vaccination. 

During a March 23 news conference Moe claimed that 57% of HCWs who were eligible under Phase 1 had taken the vaccine, but that he wished more would do so.

“Let’s set the record straight,” says Barb Cape, President of SEIU-West. “The fact is that only 60% of our 47,000 Saskatchewan health care workers have been offered the vaccine in Phase 1. If all health care providers in all areas of the health care system had been offered a vaccine in Phase 1 there would be higher percentages.”

“There have been repeated requests from SEIU-West and Saskatchewan Health Authority managers to expand the priority list to include screening staff; lab staff; and home care staff. Premier Moe has ignored health care providers in home care and in hospitals since the beginning of this pandemic.”

While vaccines for Long-Term Care staff and residents have been at the forefront, hospital workers who work in patient registration, housekeeping, labs, security, screening, and even people working in vaccine clinics have been left out of the plan.

“We’ve been saying from the beginning of the rollout that all health care providers should be offered the vaccine in Phase 1,” continues Cape. “And this position is supported by the recommendations of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).”

SEIU-West members have been engaged in a campaign to gain public support for all health care workers to be included in Phase 1 of the vaccine roll out.

“The fact that people who are interacting with the public in their homes or in health care facilities and providing care to both COVID and non-COVID patients on a regular basis have not been offered the vaccine is abhorrent and ignores guidelines and advice from the experts,” adds Cape. “The clear lack of respect for the health and well-being of front line health care workers is despicable and flies in the face of their ‘essential worker’ status.”

Service Employees International Union West (SEIU-West) represents over 13,000 people across Saskatchewan. They include people who work in health care, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors. They are united by one colour – purple – and one union – SEIU-West. Visit PurpleWorks.ca to find out more about SEIU-West members.

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For more information, contact:

Christine Miller

Communications

306-477-8733

Click here to download this media release as a PDF.

 

 

Media Release: Relaxed Rules Disrespectful of Health Care Workers

Relaxed Rules Disrespectful of Health Care Providers

March 9, 2021

Saskatoon, Sask – On the heels of Premier Scott Moe’s announcement that public health restrictions will be relaxed, SEIU-West members and leaders are concerned that this decision is premature and guided by politics rather than science or the needs of our health care system.

“It’s too soon to let our guard down like this,” says Barb Cape, President of SEIU-West. “The signs that the second wave is subsiding aren’t strong enough to justify relaxing restrictions. With the rise of the variants and lower testing numbers, we need to keep our public health restrictions in place for just a little longer to see if our efforts are really working.”

Two of Saskatchewan’s key health system leaders, Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab and Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) CEO Scott Livingstone, both expressed concern about the impending risk of a third wave of hospitalizations, especially among younger people and those unvaccinated.

“Ignoring the advice of two of your top advisors doesn’t seem like a sound way to go about protecting the people you were elected to serve,” adds Cape. “There are still a lot of unknowns about the variants and how quickly vaccines will be put into people’s arms.”

Experts agree that caution is key for the next 8 to 12 weeks based on the experience of jurisdictions in Europe noting that there is still potential that another wave would overwhelm our health care system.

“With the recent warmer weather, we’re already seeing a bit of a ‘spring fever’ effect and people are itching to push the envelope. We understand,” continues Cape. “But loosening Saskatchewan restrictions now will encourage folks to take risks… and in a couple of weeks, the heat will be back on again in our ICUs and acute care units. Let’s remember the restrictions in our province remain the most moderate in the country.”

Though Saskatchewan’s rate of COVID hospitalizations has fallen to levels not seen since Christmas, they are still the highest per capita in Canada, and the number of COVID patients in our ICUs remains high.

“Our acute care members have spent a year keeping our health care system running throughout this pandemic,” adds Cape. “And we still have 40% of the health care team who haven’t received their first dose of vaccine. A decision to relax restrictions will lead to a rise in cases and another crisis in our health care system.”

Service Employees International Union West (SEIU-West) represents over 13,000 people across Saskatchewan. They include people who work in health care, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors. They are joined by one colour – purple – and one union – SEIU-West. Visit PurpleWorks.ca to find out more about SEIU-West members.

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For more information, contact:

Christine Miller

Communications

306-477-8733

Click here for a downloadable PDF of this release.

Media Release: Respect Us & Protect Us

Respect Us & Protect Us

February 18, 2021

Saskatoon – SEIU-West leaders are alarmed with the recent public comments made by Health Minister Paul Merriman regarding the provincial vaccine roll out plan for Saskatchewan.

“It appears that our Health Minister is largely unaware of what is going on in the health sector otherwise he would not be inferring that long-term care staff and residents have all been vaccinated. While long term care staff and residents are in Phase 1, these vaccinations are not complete. In some locations, these have not been offered at all,” says Barb Cape, President of SEIU-West.

Mr. Merriman has indicated that the provincial roll-out plan will be done based on age sequencing; this model was chosen because they “looked at other provinces” and it’s “fastest.”

Cape indicates, “It’s ironic that he acknowledges a review of other jurisdictions when other locations are making health care and emergency personnel a priority for the vaccine. Why is it that only in Saskatchewan we select certain health care workers for the vaccine, rather than offering it out to all? Our Health Minister refers to “forward-facing” health care workers as being in Phase 1. It is obvious that he has no idea about the team of health care workers that we have in working in Saskatchewan. They are all ‘forward facing’ in the drive to reduce the infection rates of COVID-19.”

SEIU-West has sent an open letter to the Premier and the Minister of Health setting out clear examples of why all essential and front line workers in the health and community-based sectors need to be offered the vaccine prior to implementing the proposed age sequencing model. No reply has been received to date.

Cape adds, “It’s ironic that the Minister has stated that they have spoken to the different associations about their priorities. He certainly has undertaken no meaningful consultation with us. I don’t believe that the Minister appreciates the level of disrespect felt by our members who are faced with the daily burdens and risks of COVID. They need access to proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and the vaccine. It’s simply unconscionable to refuse our members who work at the Children’s Hospital, for example, access to the vaccine as a priority. We should be planning to reduce the number of outbreaks in our health care facilities by creating a model which complies with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization rather than increasing the risk to our front line heroes. It’s disrespectful and unsafe!”

Service Employees International Union West (SEIU-West) represents over 13,000 people across Saskatchewan. They include people who work in health care, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors. They are joined by one colour – purple – and one union – SEIU-West. Visit PurpleWorks.ca to find out more about SEIU-West members.

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For more information, contact:

Christine Miller

Communications

306-477-8733

For a downloadable copy of this media release, click here.

Open Letter to the Premier, Health Minister Merriman and Dr Saqib Shahab - Vaccine Rollout

On February 16, 2021, SEIU-West President Barb Cape sent the below open letter to Premier Scott Moe.

Click here to view the signed letter. Please scroll to the bottom to find more information about what you can do to help take up the fight. You can watch a video message from SEIU-West President Barb Cape on this issue here.

Dear Sirs,

I write to you on behalf of over 13,000 health care and allied health workers throughout the province of Saskatchewan with respect to the administration of vaccinations for the COVID-19 virus.

Specifically, I wish to draw to your attention the shocking failure of your vaccine delivery plan to appropriately prioritize workers across the full range of interrelated job classifications on which our health care and long-term care systems depend.

As you are aware, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) strongly recommend that all workers in health care settings be prioritized for the vaccine because of their close proximity to those who are likely to acquire COVID-19, but also suffer serious effects from this virus.

These workers have been on the front line of this fight against the spread of COVID-19 – in our hospitals, group homes, long-term care facilities, personal care homes, home care/community care services and blood distribution services. While these workers have been on the front line, the lack of visible support from your government has not gone unnoticed.

In fact, you have left them understaffed resulting in increased overtime and running to provide care; your government doesn’t appear to have an understanding or appreciation of what is actually happening on the front lines of this battle. Allow me to provide some snapshots of what is happening:

  • Health care technologists: staff such as Cardiovascular Technologists, other Medical
    Radiation Technologist, Medical Lab Techs and Combined Laboratory & X-Ray
    Technologists (CLXTs) are often required to move from unit to unit throughout the
    hospital or integrated care facility where they work as they provide and interpret the
    various tests that are required to diagnose and provide appropriate treatment plans.
    Their risk of potential exposure is high because of that movement, as is the
    corresponding risk that they will transmit the virus throughout the facility.
  • Providers of community care and home care: Continuing Care Aides (CCAs),
    Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs) provide health care
    services within an individual’s home or in a communal living setting, such as the
    Lighthouse in Saskatoon. This service is already fraught with unpredictability
    because of the variables in health status on a daily basis. Home care services do not
    have the predictability of a structured setting or the support of colleagues in the event
    of an adverse health event of an individual. Clients are not screened in advance of
    services being offered. As these are an individual’s home or a communal living
    situation, the lack of structure for other interactions outside of these locations, such as
    visiting outside friends or family or locations, creates an exponential risk for their
    personal health and safety that cannot be dismissed or ignored.
  • Group home staff: Staff who work in these settings are likewise put into a vulnerable
    position, along with their clients in these settings, because of the intimate, hands-on
    nature of their work providing assistance in the personal care and activities of daily
    living for each individual.
  • Staff at blood donation clinics: In our allied health sector, such as Canadian Blood
    Services, there is no oversight or supervision of the adherence to public health orders
    such that the requirement for physical distancing of two meters is not adhered to in
    the strictest sense. This is likely done to continue to maximize the number of clients
    who are donating blood, including the conduct of mobile clinics that put allied health
    staff into a variety of work situations that expand the opportunity for infection. This is
    the opposite of cohorting.
  • Staff at COVID test centres: for my final example, I want to highlight the unfortunate
    irony of the lack of a mandate to vaccinate those staff who are either conducting the
    actual COVID-19 tests and assessments or those who are providing the actual
    vaccinations. The close proximity in both of these unique work environments leaves
    too many opportunities for infection.

These are just a handful of examples of the movement and impact of health care and allied health workers. There are literally hundreds more examples impacting thousands of staff throughout the province.

While we appreciate that personal protective equipment (PPE) is standard issue for these staff, it is in an environment of several variants of COVID-19 that we continue to operate that has literally ‘upped the ante’ in our gamble with not vaccinating these health care and allied health staff as a priority. And while universal masking and PPE are key in arresting the spread of COVID-19, the clients, patients and residents that all of these workers encounter on a repeated and daily basis are not held to the same standard nor educated to the risks and effects of improper PPE wearing.

On behalf of not only my members within SEIU-West, but all health care and allied health workers, I implore you to reinstate the previously published sequence for these workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccines as a priority.

I look forward to your earliest possible response.

Respectfully,
Barbara Cape
President
SEIU-West


WHAT YOU CAN DO

Together, united, let's stand up to this inequity and demand protection for our residents, our patients, ourselves and our families and communities.

We need the government and SHA hear from all of you, soon, so they make revisiting the COVID19 vaccine rollout a priority.

Please consider dropping a line or placing a phone call:

Scott Moe

[email protected];

[email protected]

Ph: 306-747-3422 / 1-855-793-3422 (Shellbrook office)

306-787-9433 (Legislature office)

Health Minister Paul Merriman

[email protected]

[email protected]

Ph: 306-244-5623 (Saskatoon office)

306-787-7345 (Legislature office)

[email protected]

If you're looking for even more to do, contact your nearest Sask Party MLA and demand they push their colleagues to do the right thing.

MLA Contact Information

Media Release: Vaccine Plan Misses the Mark

Vaccination Plan Misses the Mark

February 10, 2021

For Immediate Release

Saskatoon – SEIU-West members are shocked to discover that, once again, the SaskParty government has diminished the value of our front line health care providers as the vaccine roll out plan places them on the back burner in Saskatchewan.

“Our members are facing the daily burdens presented by the ongoing surge of COVID in this province yet so many have been missed in phase 1 of the vaccination plan. It’s obvious, given recent public statements from Premier Scott Moe, that our provincial government has no intention of reducing the risk to these front line health care providers by the introduction and enforcement of more stringent regulations. Now we see they will not be afforded a priority vaccine either. This is a huge mistake,” says Barb Cape, President of SEIU-West.

Cape adds, “Our provincial government needs to understand the devastating effects of COVID on the front line. We should be focusing on what we can control rather than what we cannot if we truly want to manage the spread of COVID-19. Pinning our success solely on fighting this disease with a vaccine is a foolish strategy given that we have no control over access; our question is whether this is simply another way to shirk responsibility when it comes to fighting this pandemic? It is alarming that there is so little respect for the protection of our front line heroes – when they face the brunt of provincial decision-making on a daily basis. Why would we not see them placed in phase 1 of the vaccination plan? These priorities need to be realigned immediately.”

For weeks now, Scott Moe and our SaskParty government have been blaming the Canadian Federal government for the lack of supply of vaccine – the apparent silver bullet in the fight against the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

“This is not a one-solution kind of situation,” continues Cape. “The vaccine is a very important part of the puzzle in this fight but we also need stronger restrictions that are actually enforced.”

The provincial government has been maintaining for weeks that their current public health order and restrictions are sufficient and that tightening them won’t help. Recently Moe has been rallying behind the idea that the vaccine is the only way out of this pandemic.

“The one thing that I think has been keeping people safe during this pandemic is doing what they can to reduce risk,” adds Cape. “Staying physically distant, wearing a mask, washing your hands; those are things people can control. What people don’t have control over and what this government doesn’t have control over is how fast vaccines can be manufactured and delivered so, in the meantime, we must do what we can to lessen the risk and if that requires tighter restrictions, then we need to do that.”

Service Employees International Union West (SEIU-West) represents over 13,000 people across Saskatchewan. They include people who work in health care, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors. They are united by one colour – purple – and one union – SEIU-West. Visit PurpleWorks.ca to find out more about SEIU-West members.

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For more information, contact:

Christine Miller

Communications

306-477-8733

Click here to download a printable PDF of this media release

Don't Forget! Feb 15th Deadline for Applying for Phase 2, Sask Temporary Wage Supplement

Just a reminder that the deadline for applications for Phase 2 of the Saskatchewan Temporary Wage Supplement is February 15, 2021.

While we continue to demand that Premier Scott Moe give all essential workers retroactive access to both phases, please remember to take advantage of the program if you already qualify by working in an approved facility.

Eligible essential care facilities are listed alphabetically in the online application form (see drop-down menus under each eligible facility type). In its current form, Saskatchewan's Temporary Wage Supplement benefit is provided to full-time, part-time and casual workers, and includes anyone employed by the facility, such as care workers, cooks, housekeepers, janitors, administrative staff, etc.

You can find more information on this program on the Saskatchewan government's website

To learn more about SEIU-West's "Hey Moe, Where's Our Dough?" campaign, fighting for access to the Temporary Wage Supplement for all essential workers, click here.

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