Letter to the Premier - Lindsay Sellar , MOA (August, 2020)
Hon. Jim Reiter – Health Minister
Hon. Donna Harpauer – Finance Minister
Hon. Don Morgan – MLA Saskatoon Southeast, Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety
Hon. Scott Moe – Premier of Saskatchewan
Dear Premier Scott Moe,
I work in Administration in the Laboratory in Saskatoon and as a member of SEIU-West and a constituent of Hon. Don Morgan, I have been silently sitting on the sidelines watching the bargaining process for the last four years.
No, that’s not a typo.
You are well aware that we have been without a contract for over four years. SEIU-West leaders have asked you all for help in our negotiations because SAHO will not bargain, will not give us a fair offer, and have disrespected us and the work we do.
I can be silent no longer – and neither can you. If you truly believe we are heroes as we’ve heard you say in the media, I urge you to get involved in order to reach a fair deal.
We are often told by our elected representatives that this is a bargaining issue, so why is it that two days after Canadian National Railway employees began strike action last year, a pair of urgent motions hit the floor of Saskatchewan's legislature, illustrating ideas on how to end the labour dispute. Why will our government not show the same level of interest in our health care system?
During COVID-19 we have been cohorted, exposed, and worked to the bone. We have been working constantly without days off due to understaffing and an abundance of work.
We sometimes joke the overtime is worth it… but it’s not. We are overworked, understaffed, under-appreciated, and under-paid. It is a serious safety issue for everyone involved when we are working this way.
In talking to coworkers, many eligible workers are retiring years before they wanted to due to stress and workload – the pandemic has worsened these stresses. It is clearly not sustainable the way our health care system is running, and I implore you to respond to this urgent situation.
We have seen many people call us “health care heroes” and hear “thank you so much to the essential workers for all you’re doing.”
What they don’t recognize is that our regulations and our way of working is changing DAILY.
We are expected to cover for those working from home when they have hospital-specific duties. We have staff leaving constantly in a revolving door fashion as they don’t realize the workload, the staffing crisis, and the severely low morale.
Our lab is constantly losing people and working 5+ days per week, while being called in for overtime to cover the gap since our work is extremely essential and time sensitive.
The public deserves us at our best. Yet our wages are causing many, including myself, to live pay cheque-to-pay cheque – that isn’t right.
We are afraid of exposure at work while our immune systems are down from stress, overwork, and we are constantly scared of bringing COVID-19 home to our loved ones or taking it out in public if needing to stop for groceries.
What we are feeling is that we aren’t even worth the hazard pay.
Grocery clerks at many stores got a temporary boost, and a very small section of health workers get a boost. But those of us in the hospitals and acute centers are not included and we feel we’re being punished by not being included because of where we work.
They deserve the boost, but so do we.
The whole health care team is important. We are told we are essential and heroes, but treated as though we deserve nothing. No boost, no contract, no help, no recognition in any way besides empty words.
Please do the right thing and help us get a fair contract. Put more money into this so we can get fair wages to keep up with the increasing cost of living.
We’ve struggled with stagnant wages for years (from a few separate contracts)! We are done waiting for fairness; we want the recognition that we always deserve, but especially during a pandemic.
I do not want to hear a generic, generated response about the budget, about how a few of you oh-so-generously donated your pay increase this year and how you don’t want to interfere.
It’s time for you to fund health care properly for today’s realities. Respond to me as a human that deserves a response for all we’ve been put through.
Lindsay Sellar, constituent of Hon. Don Morgan