Letter to the Premier - Janine Lazaro, Health Care Provider (May, 2020)
Dear Premier Scott Moe,
I belong to the hard-working Filipino Community of Saskatoon. Every corner of the world a lot of Filipinos are directly taking care of COVID-19 patients and risking their lives and their families. For 18 years I have worked as a Continuing Care Assistant.
I cherish my job and appreciate the opportunity given to me to be in this line of work. This is work full of compassion, heart and empathy. I love my job knowing I can make a difference in people's lives.
I had the opportunity to personally asked you 8 months ago after 800 days without a contract, how would you address the difficulty in reaching a fair contract for all us. As expected, you told me that you tried but we voted against it. I respectfully disagreed and told you that I was clearly in need of a fair contract.
I don't think 0 for the first two years is fair knowing the cost of living keeps increasing. Then, I asked you if you have any plans to address the chronic understaffing in health care most especially in long term care, a question that was left unanswered.
Now more than ever, we felt the urgency and hardship in terms of critical low staffing. We are called all over the province for shifts in Prince Albert, La Loche, Lloydminster and Saskatoon. I don't want to say our union leaders told you so but I will say it anyway...
You're $400 temporary wage supplement is a good start but I feel like you never consider that all of us regardless of income, all are working under the same stressful circumstances. Every human being matters, every person deserves respect and spotlight.
Every day of this pandemic we are called essential workers or new heroes of this crisis. But it becomes clear that we are still left behind. Your government's offer to rollback wages and then offer zeroes - it's a slap in the face but we still continue to come to work, to care for our patients. With little to no recognition and compensation for going above and beyond for what we all do to save people's lives.
We all deserve far better because we have always been essential workers to this province even before this global pandemic. Your refusal to bargain fairly and negotiate is extremely disrespectful to all of us who have been out risking our own health. This shows a lack of empathy and understanding of the reality of our work and our lives. You're government has never given us the spotlight and recognition we deserve.
It took a global pandemic and fear of death for you to acknowledge that workers like us who are working at 2016 rates of pay, that we are the reason why this great province is the safest province to live in during this crisis. We put ourselves at risk to saves lives and we also put our family in danger. We will continue to face it as we start the first phase of the Reopening Saskatchewan plan.
As we start to reopen our province I would like to remind you and the entire ministry that we, the frontline health care workers need more than thank you. We need a decent wage increase to support our family. We have been here for the people of Saskatchewan and we will continue to do so to the aid and rescue of those who need us during the highest or lowest moment of their life.
This is not the first time we are in front of tragedy and won't be the last. We still show up to work regardless. We are asking you to think about us as we risk our own life to serve the people of Saskatchewan.