Letters to Politicians: Frontline Workers Deserve Respect

Letter to the Premier - Valerie Francais, CCA (April, 2020)

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, LPN (April, 2020)

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

Letter to the Premier - Dennel Pickering, CCA (April, 2020)

Dear Mr Premier,

I'm one of all the others you reference, after you list doctors and nurses specifically. I work front line in healthcare, as a continuing care assistant. I'm in a less controlled environment than long term care; I work in homecare. The unease of going to work, not sure if you're a carrier about to infect your clients has been stressful, at best. While I struggle to breathe through masks now, I'm so very grateful that our union has pushed for masks and gowns (PPE) and the employer has finally provided them.

I've been more interested in our bargaining process than watching the president of the United States, which, like a bad horror movie, you just can't not watch. I saw you offer us a wage reduction in the sweetest way. You told us that we get to pick what we want to give up to balance your books. Kind of like asking which finger you wanted us to chop off. We were adamant that we didn't want to give back anything that we bargained for over decades of contracts, but rather, we wanted a wage increase that would allow us to pay our bills. I'm sure you know the cost of living keeps increasing, and that's why you tied MLA wage increases to cost of living increases.

I'm used to not being the favorite child. So, I wasn't expecting you to all of a sudden give us giant wage increases that you gave the RNs just as soon as you got into power. Don't get me wrong, they work hard and deserved the wage increases. But, Mr Premier, you've acknowledged that we work hard too. So I ask you why it's been 4 years without a raise? And please don't answer with a response like, the other unions got their raise but you voted against it. You bet I did. 0 0 1 2 2 is barely a raise, especially when you think about our low wages to begin with. If you offered me 2 percent of your wage, I'd gladly take it. 2 percent of my wage after 20 years in the job is 46.34 cents.

I don't even want us to get danger pay/hazard pay. That implies you are paying for us to work unsafely and risk lives. I want doctors and nurses and "all the others in healthcare" to work safely to provide the best possible care for our seniors and our most vulnerable in society. I want to provide skilled care safely for them and safely for us. I also want to be paid reasonable wages permanently. I want to be valued by my government, the one that says we are doing a great job in this global pandemic to come to work every day and walk into the unknown.
Why, Mr Premier, do you keep telling us you value us but won't put money where your mouth is?
We are scared. Every damned day. But we show up. We provide care. We comfort those around us that are scared. We are here asking you to value us the way our patients, residents, and clients and their families do.

Respectfully,

Dennel Pickering

Letter to the Premier - Martin Been, Health Care Provider (April, 2020)

Let me start by saying that I am proud to call myself a member of the health care team. I wear my pride on my shirt as a reminder that I do this for the public which I serve.

At the same time, I am ashamed to call myself a health care worker, based strictly on how we’ve been devalued by your government.

Historically the mere mention of someone working in health care, brought responses of interest on how to acquire various professions in the field. One could earn a fair living with a decent wage then. There was a sense of respect for all that we did.

Now the mention of working in health care doesn’t draw the attraction it once did. The decent wage has fallen victim to affordability.

I watched, with interest how your Party suggested health care workers should take a 3.5% wage cut, citing that if MLA’s could do so, why couldn’t healthcare workers? I point out to you, Mr. Premier that the 3.5% wage cut your government took for one year, kept all of you in the $100,000/year club. Never was it posed that the 3.5% cut put to health care workers would have an expiry date of one year, plus such a 3.5% cut would throw me into a lower tax bracket which if I may point out hardly seems fair.

Health care workers have been without a contract since April of 2017. The latest offer which starts with not one, but two years of 0 increase, is beyond comprehension.

The Covid 19 pandemic has brought out both the best and worst. Long fought for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) was finally granted as the best tool to use in keeping frontline workers safe. To accomplish this, however, the downgrading of previous conditions health care workers had normally safeguarded against through use of PPE occurred.

You Mr. Premier, have repeatedly stated throughout this pandemic that health care workers are essential...unfortunately, the sense of pride and acknowledgment that goes along with this designation, does not pay the bills. I am hoping you can find a way to demonstrate to health care workers that we are truly valued.

Thank you for your earliest reply,

Martin Been

Letter to the Premier - Brenda Berry, CCA (April, 2020)

To Premier Moe,

I watched the news on April 22, 2020 at 6:00pm and was disappointed in your address to the province. 

As Premier, you are always thanking the doctors and registered nurses, but as a Continuing Care Assistant who works in a hospital and a long term care home, I provide hands on care to our patients, residents, and clients. I am responsible for dressing, feeding, bathing, medications, lifting, repositioning, and reporting. As a part of the health care team, I know we are a very caring and compassionate group of people. During this pandemic we are the only people our residents see and we try to be as positive and uplifting as we can, but they are often lonely and unable to comprehend why their loved ones have stopped coming to see them. We are their connection to the outside world.

The Environmental Service Workers do amazing work performing enhanced cleaning to ensure our facilities do not harbour or transmit any viruses but in a health care setting, it is very difficult going to work each day, always unsure whether I’ll contract COVID-19 or take it home to my family. 

I am disappointed that I have not had a pay increase since April 1, 2016. Meanwhile, my government legislates pay increases for themselves regularly, and at a level that is more than what you offered to us.  You asked us to take a 3.5% rollback, and now we’re being offered two years of zeroes and 1%, 2%, and 2% over 5 years.  That's 5% over five years, but MLAs have always received larger increases (not to mention your much higher salary).

I continue to go to work and provide quality care to our patients, residents and clients in this uncertain time.  I would really appreciate the government providing the finances required for SAHO to get back to the bargaining table and bring a decent proposal that myself and fellow health care providers can accept.  After all, we are the backbone of the frontline in healthcare.

Sincerely,

Brenda Berry

Letter to the Health Minister - Cheryl Wilker, CCA (April, 2020)

Dear Health Minister,

Now do you agree that front line works are a very important to Health Care and to this province? Without us, you would not be able to flatten the curve for COVID-19.

The government has been offering funding to many sectors to keep the economy going, but are you going to fund a wage increase to the frontline health care workers? We are risking our lives while also stressing over the chance of bringing the virus home to our families and risking their health as well.

I’m not a RN or a Doctor - I am Continuing Care Assistant and my wellbeing and my family’s is just as important as any healthcare employee that is providing care during COVID-19. I’m working in a high risk environment and wear protective gear so I don’t get infected with COVID-19 as well.

We receive a thank you from news media, the people in our community, and from the families of our clients for keeping their loved ones safe. The one person who should be acknowledging us is basically saying “no we are not important” and our wellbeing is less important.

When you express a thank you to frontlines health care workers to the press, it’s very upsetting that you are not expressing a thank you to all front line workers.

I feel we all should be treated the same. All employees that are providing care during this pandemic should be treated the same as we are all deemed essential services. I hope to hear a response.

Thank you,

Cheryl Wilker

Letter to the Premier - Marte Olsen, Health Care Provider (April, 2020)

Premier Scott Moe,

I am not a Nurse or Doctor, I am an essential SHA employee in LTC.

At this time during this Pandemic, the curtain has been pulled back across Canada for the World to see how badly LTC has been under funded, under staffed and ignored during years of our cries for help!

Billboards, media, letters sent, word of mouth, contacting our MLAs; we exhausted all avenues to get the attention of Provincial and Federal Government across Canada for someone to pay attention. No one gave LTC/Home Care Frontline workers the time of day about any of our concerns!

As of today, April 22, 2020, the Province of Saskatchewan has minimal cases of COVID-19 in a LTC Facility, Home Care or Private Care homes in Saskatoon.

We could be in the same situation as our Eastern Provinces in Ontario and Quebec! LTC was ignored there as well. And it now is obvious to all Canadian Citizens and all families just how much we were ignored.

Premier Scott Moe, Frontline Workers in LTC/Home Care make our Saskatchewan Government Officials look good at a time like this. We deserve to be thanked, compensated, recognized and respected for putting our lives on the line everyday and working tiredly for our Seniors and Disabled in our Province during this pandemic. We have worked tiredly to keep our Seniors and Disabled healthy and safe to ease the burden of overloading our Acute Care.

WE are all the SHA employees that have been denied a pay raise for 4 years and ignored by our Government. WE make our Government look good by the number of COVID-19 cases Saskatchewan has.

I consistently read comments of praises and thanks the citizens of Saskatchewan send you.

I agree with the comments of praises and thanks sent your way, for the most part. However; I feel those praises and showing of gratitude are because your Saskatchewan Healthcare employees have done their part for our Province, especially working with very very limited PPE at our disposal. As tired and afraid as we all were, we did not quit caring for our citizens.

Please, do not ignore us next time we want to talk!

 

Respectfully

Marte Olsen

Letter to the Premier - Barb Cape, President (April, 2020)

Good afternoon Mr. Premier,

I hope you are doing well during the COVID-19 pandemic as we all navigate these new and unprecedented times.

I  would like to identify who the “others”, as you refer to them in previous media events, are who are  working in healthcare beyond the doctors and nurses.   I would respectfully request that you consider their incredible contributions and sacrifices to bending/flattening the curve of the cases of COVID-19 in this pandemic.  There is an incredibly diverse group of people who are keeping health care running and ensuring that we are not overwhelmed by the pandemic.

  • 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. 
  • Security, maintenance and tradespeople 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 – this includes acute care, long-term care, home care, community care and other primary care ward and department support, payroll, finance, and schedulers who ensure that our facilities are staffed & 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 PPE equipment and supplies, necessary to keep us all safe and to provide quality healthcare  that Saskatchewan residents have come to expect.

This is only a representative sample of the  ‘other’ that you refer to…there are many more particular jobs that cover tens of thousands of health care  provider workers.  We are proud to acknowledge that there are over 35,000 frontline staff who are part of the ‘health care team’…across various unions.

SEIU-West is very proud of the work that members perform every day and I believe we are heroes not only during this pandemic, but every day of the year. 

On behalf of these professionals, I 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. They are the people your government asked to take a 3.5% cut in compensation, and a large number of them are working without a collective agreement. 

Yes, their last pay increase was April 1, 2016, yet, they continue to show up and lead our health care system. They do this for their patients, clients and residents. We should all appreciate their efforts and do our best to keep them safe.   I think their efforts are worthy of our praise and acknowledgement, don’t you?

 

Respectfully,

Barbara Cape
President
SEIU-West
#200-747 46th St. W
Saskatoon, Sask
S7L 6A1
MRC Toll Free: 1.888.999.SEIU (7348) ext. 2298 | URL: www.seiuwest.ca

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.

 

Respectfully,

Janine Lazaro

Letter to the Premier - Brett Berger, CCA (May, 2020)

Dear Honourable Premier Moe,

I am unsure if you are aware that CCAs in long term care, in many facilities, are working everyday with staff shortages, some are planned and some are unplanned.  CCAs play an important role in providing quality of life to our seniors who are residents.  

We provide personal care (this includes getting people up, bathing residents, personal hygiene needs, feeding assists & so many other care tasks) and most of the time we are rushed to do so, not because we want to get it done quickly, but because our help is continuously needed by others in wait.  

In some circumstances, we are unable to attend to all of our residents.  Did you know that we have CCAs who are required to work alone (for portions of a shift) to provide care in some instances?  This is unsafe when it comes to Transfer, Lift and Reposition of residents. We also work alone on our night shifts.  This is unacceptable!  For some reason, the SHA has approved this.  

How come we are alone while having the responsibility to take care of others?  What if something happens to us, who helps us? Who helps those people if no one knows something happened to us? What if we can’t call for help in some kind of emergency situation?  Unpredictability is always an ongoing concern in our line of work; some residents become agitated and can become violent.  This is not a “Zero tolerance” workplace for hazards that have the potential to occur.  Where is the OH and S priority and why is there no oversight to ensure that safe care is the priority?

You should also know that we now have cooking and cleaning added to our job duties.  This is not because we have spare time to do these extra duties.  And we have never received a pay grade upgrade for the added duties.  This is simply so that the employer can eliminate the jobs that previously provided support in the care environment...and it was done to save money.  

The health facility planning involved our positions providing personal care, and we are expected to cook the food ”restaurant style” with multiple different kinds of meals for people if they do not wish to eat the meal selected for us to cook and serve to the whole house.  We also are responsible to take into account the different diets and textures; as well we are expected to provide at a temperature regulated rate. This is beyond stressful and not always realistic but that's just how that goes.

We need higher wages and we need more staff.  We need to make sure transfers & lifts are always involving two persons.  You need to fund long term care like you care about our seniors who are residents and bring more staff on the floor to improve their quality of life.  We also need our support staff positions returned so that we have cooks, food service workers and environmental services workers. We are over-worked and underpaid; our residents need more time spent with them, not less.  We need you to fix our underfunding crisis.

Finally, we have had no contract for 4 years - it's time to use your authority to ensure that we receive a fair offer from SAHO so that we can get an increase from our 2016 rates of pay.
Make this a priority.  Our residents and my co-workers cannot wait any longer.


Respectfully,

Brett Berger

Letter to the Premier - Frontline Health Care Provider, May 2020

Dear Premier,

As a support worker with Sask Health Authority I would like to thank you for donating your annual pay raise to charity.

I thought that was a really nice gesture, for about 2 seconds.

I then realized that I did not get an annual pay raise.

After this Pandemic is over I hope the outstanding contract negotiations are different.

I hope the province remembers the support workers.

We are coming to work every day. We are following all the rules.

We are keeping your mothers, uncles, cousins alive in the long term care homes.

We are lining up to do whatever job needs to be done so they will be healthy.

We are caring people who do our jobs proudly even though we are just the janitors and cooks and caregivers.

We are the last line of defense for the people in long term care.

We are doing our best.

I do not receive an annual pay raise, let alone one that will keep up with the cost of living.

If I did get a raise I will just waste it on bills and food.

Thank you for donating your annual pay raise to charity.

SEIU-West Member

Letter to the Premier - Jasmine Lusher, ORT-LPN (June, 2020)

Greetings,

My name is Jasmine. I have worked in the health care system in Saskatchewan for 24 years. I have worked in many different capacities furthering my education along the way.  I have always loved our province and my community. I have always had a sense of pride to serve the birth place of medicare in this country. I love my job.

It is for these reasons that I have continued working in this field for so many years. Despite the fact that I have never, in 24 years, received a raise that equated with inflation. People seem to believe that union workers “make the big bucks” , but you and I know differently, don’t we?

The vast majority of my years as a union member I have received zero for an actual raise when the cost of living is considered. All health care workers know you have the need to balance the budget on our backs.

This has always been effective because working in health care is not a job, it’s a calling. We do it because we need to. We are called to.      

I am writing this letter for one reason. To let you know that we love our families just as fiercely. This marginalization of health care workers requires walking a fine line. We can be pushed too far. It is not easy, as I said most of us feel a strong commitment to serve.

When I heard that the employer virtually “walked away” from negotiations, disrespecting my colleagues at the table in such a harsh way, I fell firmly on my face on the other side of this imaginary line. For the first time in 24 years. 

The past few months have been the most difficult of my career. I don’t sleep at all the night before a shift. I do an online screening tool in my car prior to entering the hospital. Yesterday I had to call my manager as I had a headache and needed to be sure I could enter.

Once in the building I meet security where they verify my screening tool, take my temperature, witness me sanitizing my hands and provide me a sticker for my identification to indicate I passed the test for that shift. Once I get to the unit, in my case the operating rooms, I have minutes to review the procedural changes.

The process is: review, understand the rationale, understand how to implement. This changes daily. Many cases have required respirators. In these cases we partner with other nurses, surgeons, or anesthesiologists to don and doff PPE.

This is critical as this is when exposure is most likely. After the cases, which may require breathing through a respirator for hours, we go one at a time to shower. We must wash from head to toe, including hair wash. We then put on clean scrubs, tie up wet hair, and do it again.

Despite all this, the worst part is coming home to my family. Not hugging them. Not receiving their comfort when I need it most.     

It has been hard to keep going on like this. When I heard that the employer got up from the bargaining table and turned off the meeting, I knew. I knew it was a message for me to leave health care.

Caring for a community, risking my safety, my family’s safety, when they don’t respect me enough to make sure I can continue to feed and house my family - this is not acceptable. I have never before felt ashamed of Saskatchewan.

I am now struggling to find a way to even be happy living in a province where the government doesn’t respect health care workers enough to even provide them with basic cost of living increases; to help them maintain a modest standard of living.

This is especially painful when I go on to see my government representatives have received cost of living increases repeatedly. When my neighbour tells me the government is providing their private business an additional $5000 to remain closed.

When I see messages from all the people working safely from home, including my government representatives. I can’t stay home. I can’t stay safe. I am a health care worker.

I would like you to know just how disappointed I am that you choose to support your colleagues, those in the business including both energy and agriculture sector – yet you choose to turn your back on the very people who have been key to flattening the curve in this pandemic.  How about some fairness for health care?

 

Respectfully,

Jasmine Lusher

Letter to the Editor- Health Care Workers Underappreciated by Provincial Government (June, 2020)

Health Care Workers Underappreciated by Provincial Government

I think the health care workers in Saskatoon deserve a huge thank you from our community. So far these individuals have successfully prevented any COVID-19 outbreaks in our long-term care homes and hospitals. Compared to other provinces, these dedicated people have done an impressive job.

Most of the health care workers in Saskatoon are members of SEIU West. These members include laboratory technologists, LPNs (nurses), continuing care assistants, housekeepers, and many other professions too numerous to mention. The sad fact is these people have been working without a contract for more than four years. They are not walking out or striking because their jobs are too important to walk away from.

The provincial government takes advantage of this dedication and throws crumbs at them. The current contract offer is five per cent over five years with the first two years having no increase at all.

If our teachers are worth six per cent over four years and our city employees are getting 6.9 per cent over four years, how can the province offer less over a longer period of time?

The offer to the health care workers is insulting and disrespectful. They are there for us to do all of the necessary testing, keep our facilities clean and safe for patients, and care for our loved ones, but the government is not there for them when a fair contract is overdue.

It’s time for the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO) to treat these people with respect instead of kicking them in the butt.

Shame on you Premier Moe for turning your back on this essential service group.

Trevor Gordon
Saskatoon

https://leaderpost.com/opinion/letters/letters-to-the-editor-provincial-government-taking-advantage-of-health-care-workers/wcm/2751f1b2-46d2-4d27-9747-7a363c0e7d98/

Letter to the Premier - Dennel Pickering, CCA (June, 2020)

Dear Mr Premier,

When I met you at your BBQ a couple summers ago you didn't immediately dismiss me. I had hope that we had a Premier who would listen to constituents. It took several months, but I was given the opportunity to sit with you and my SEIU-West President and a staff member to talk about my health care concerns.  It seemed you gained an understanding of the short staffing crisis. I was hopeful. I went to budget day like a kid on Christmas morning. While I was disappointed, I still had hope that you were going to act in our seniors' best interests by creating legislation for minimum care staffing levels. I know things take time in government, nothing happens overnight.

So imagine my shock when I wrote to you on April 20th and I didn't even get a form letter reply from you. You forwarded my letter to Minister Harpauer.  She has done nothing to demonstrate to me that she cares about any constituent, and certainly not health care workers outside her constituency, so I've given up talking to her. She sent a substandard reply over a month later and that day I asked her to redirect the letter back to you.

I wrote you.

"It's deeply disturbing that you couldn't even respond to my valid concerns. I'm losing hope for you. Then when I talked to my friends, they told me that the same thing happened to them. While it was comforting to see that it wasn't just me that you refused to respond to, it was also alarming that you didn't seem to want to hear from any front line health care workers."

When did this shift happen? Is there a reason that you don't care what we have to say anymore? We've demonstrated loyalty by showing up every day, by agreeing to cohorting (which has caused severe short staffing issues at my workplace and financial stress for many) and by caring for and about our most vulnerable. I will always advocate for my co-workers and clients. I'm asking you to advocate for us. Or at the very least, respond to us.

I look forward to hearing from you. My Premier.

Sincerely,

Dennel Pickering

Letter to the Premier - Marte Olsen, Unit Clerk (June, 2020)

Premier Scott Moe,

Firstly, I want to thank you for your Leadership during this pandemic. I am sure you never dreamt when you took on the responsibility of being Premier of Saskatchewan you would be faced with this horrendous task of keeping all the citizens of Saskatchewan safe during a Pandemic. You made some very tough decisions showing leadership and empathy. From the beginning of this pandemic, at times I am sure you felt like you were herding cats!! I give you an A report card.

Now, I would like to talk about Healthcare Employees in Saskatchewan. I have been an employee of SHA for 26 years, presently employed in LTC. My first letter to you was in April, at that time it was all hands on deck! When I look back now, I have tremendous respect for every one of my co-workers right across the board from LTC, Home Care and Acute Care as well as other Health Care Employees. Your Health Care workers are all a family. We are strong, dependable, resilient and dedicated! I am having a difficult time understanding that a Leader that can show such empathy and care for Saskatchewan people can show such disregard and unimportance to your Health Care Employees that assisted you in keeping our Province’s citizens safe! All SHA Employees are part of your Team during this Pandemic and worked alongside of you, following your Leadership decisions, while keeping our Residents, Patients, and Clients safe and healthy and keeping ourselves safe and healthy!! Our responsibility is an immense undertaking! Our report card for the last 4 months should be an A++!

We certainly do not deserve to be treated with such disrespect as reflected in our last contract SEIU bargaining offer! We do not deserve to be sitting with no pay raise for 3 years! We do not deserve to have the Leader of our Province turn your back on us! We are part of your Team! How is it, part of you and your Team get your pay increases and part of your Team gets nothing??

I am not sure if you have considered this or not, your treatment and unfairness, in our 3 year over due SEIU contract, is creating substantial anger, resentment and low morale in Health Care Employees. As I said, we are strong and we are resilient BUT none of us will tolerate being told we are “unworthy” day after day for 3 years! That is the message you are sending us. In this real world, I call that physiological abuse, being told you are “unworthy” over and over again, day after day for 3 years!!

As part of your Team, I am asking you for fairness, empathy and logical thinking that you are capable of.

I am asking you to sit down and think about if you want to keep sending us the message that we are unworthy or if you want to show fairness to this part of your Team. Please remember, you could have not got your A report card without us! We had your back, now let’s see if you have our backs!

 

Marte Olsen

SEIU Member

Part of your Team

Letter to the SK Temp. Wage Supplement Program

The newly expanded Form B eligibility criteria still do not address several facilities, including, but not limited to Saskatoon City Hospital, Saskatoon St. Paul's Hospital, Saskatoon Royal University Hospital, Regina Pasqua and General Hospitals, and my place of employment, Saskatoon Home Care, based in the Idylwyld Centre, where I am employed as a CCA working in the community, in private homes, long term care, and assisted living facilities.

By omitting these facilities/employers, you have effectively denied the majority of the front line workers in Saskatoon and the acute care facilities in Regina from accessing this benefit, as most of them will not qualify under the present income criteria of Form A either. I trust this was an omission by mistake, and not intent, and ask that the discrepancy be corrected quickly, before the deadline date or even the eligibility time frame.

Russ Ebenal

Letter to the Premier- Lois Camacho, Home Care Scheduler (July, 2020)

Dear Premier Moe,

I have been thinking a lot lately about my job;  you see I have been with health care for many years, 25 of them working at Home Care in Saskatoon. I understand the value of our work in my ongoing communications with clients and their families.  What I don’t understand is the government’s attitude that we are all disposable.

When COVID-19 hit, I really wish you would have been witness to what happened on the front line. If you would have, or at least if one of your Ministers of Health would have experienced firsthand the fear, the anxiety and the terror that the Home Care CCAs and all the office staff felt, it might have changed the way you view health care workers.  

It was and still is one of the biggest reality checks I have ever experienced. I was on the receiving end of the phone because it’s part of my job to help direct the staff, I am a scheduler. I know firsthand how hard it was for the staff in the field. I heard the fear and frustration in the voices of our clients and our home care workers.

Along with my peers, we were the ones trying to be strong and encourage everyone to hang in there. We offered support and leadership they so desperately needed. Now four months later: not one of us has given up or walked away. But it sure feels like you have. You have abandoned us entirely.

Three years plus is long enough without a raise. Imagine putting your job ahead of everything else. Well we did and continue to.  At the same time, you and your Ministers of Health keep spreading the word that investments have increased in health care.  But this is not accurate for home care - since 2014 there has been an 8% decrease in public home care hours within Sask Health Authority.

We have known this all along; your talking points have not convinced us that we are wrong and the SHA data confirms we are correct. We have been saying for so long that it’s like trying to fit a watermelon into a golf ball size hole when there’s not enough staffing to cover the needs.  I want you to know that we are not buying the government’s narrative that you are trying to sell about proper investments in health care…this is proof that  investment is decreasing.

My question is whether the decline is purposeful – just another effort to offload your responsibility and enlarge privatization, or is it because it is difficult to recruit?

I am not sure if you are aware that it’s always easier to recruit and retain skilled quality health care staff when you show them appreciation and value – things like adjusting the mandate that restricts the current contract offer to a fair one would be a great start.

No matter which way you look at this health care workers care about patients, clients and residents; when will you stand up and show us that you care?  

 

Lois Camacho

SEIU-West Member

Letter to the Premier - Deidre Wilson, CCA (July, 2020)

Dear Premier Moe,

I would like you to pause and consider why there has been an 8% decline in home care hours of work within the Sask Health Authority since 2014.

As a home care worker for many years in the Moose Jaw community, I know that we regularly have clients on a wait list. I also know that many seniors have been required to pay out-of-pocket for services that are not available to them. Still others are forced to seek long term care or access emergency services which we all know is more costly.

While home care is the preferred option for our seniors – we continue to have too few full-time jobs in home care and our hours of home care services have diminished; yet the need in the community is more pronounced than ever. 

I am asking you to quit paying lip service to our seniors - make a real investment in health care for their benefit. This means creating real full-time jobs in home care and ensuring fulsome access to home care services so that their needs can be met. 

I am also asking for you to stand up for health care workers: the government needs health care workers – this has become very evident in the past four months. For home care, we need to ensure recruitment of qualified Continuing Care Assistants and Licensed Practical Nurses; to this end, I ask that you give new instructions to the Sask Assoc of Health Organizations. 2016 wage rates don’t pay the bills – we need a fair contract that accounts for inflation.

 

Home Care Continuing Care Aide

Deidre Wilson

Letter to the Premier - Lori Fehr, MOA (July, 2020)

Click here to go to this letter's page.

To the Premier,

I have worked in health care for almost 20 years, and I’m writing to you for the first time because there is an urgent need to address the current struggles we’re facing.

I work as a Medical Office Assistant (MOA) and a Continuing Care Assistant (CCA) at St. Paul’s Hospital – while my primary job is the MOA position, I’m often pulled to do CCA work due to the understaffing.

I’ve noticed a huge difference in health care from when I first started to now – workload is way up, there are fewer staff, and health care needs are increasing. These conditions are causing safety concerns, and are certainly impacting the ability to recruit and retain new health care staff. To add to this, our frontline health care team has not had a raise in over three years. We turned down the offer of zeroes because we know we’re worth more – by calling us heroes as we work through the COVID-19 pandemic, don’t you agree? You cannot call us heroes on one hand and in the other, offer zeroes (rollbacks).

The pressure of stagnant wages is having a detrimental effect on both our work lives and home lives. Personally, my family and I have had a very hard time paying for bills and groceries. I have my children living at home because my grandson, Emmet, was in need of extra attention and who I’m devastated to say we lost in April of this year – you may have heard about him in the media, called baby Emmet. Families like ours shouldn’t be struggling to make ends meet – no one should.

I ask that you please step in to ensure our health care team earns what we deserve – it is under your leadership as to whether frontline health care staff are treated with respect. Please respond to this letter personally.

Best,

Lori Fehr

Letter to the Premier - Young Workers Committee (July, 2020)

Letter to the Editor: Government Needs to Implement Safe Staffing Levels in Health Care Facilities (July, 2020)

Government doesn’t make decisions for the people

In the midst of a pandemic, one would expect our government to take up the opportunity to implement a budget to spur the slowly opening economy to the benefit of Saskatchewan people. Instead, we bear witness to a government continuing to offer tax breaks to corporations while bemoaning a $2.4-billion “pandemic deficit.”

This is nothing new for this government.

Remember the move to sell off the Crowns a few years back, resulting in the loss of our provincial bus service? Are we to expect more of our Crowns to be on the block again to repair Sask. Party fiscal mismanagement?

Does anyone recall how the MLAs took a 3.5-per-cent wage cut, then demanded public sector workers do the same? The very next year the MLAs took that 3.5 per cent back as their wage hike and they have enjoyed an increase every year since.

Health care workers always have, and always will, put the needs of patients first. Because they care. The failure to create a work standard which realizes safe staffing levels in all health care facilities, leaving these facilities with unsafe staffing, is of detriment to the patients, clients and long-term care-home residents of this province.

Much needed tests, activities to keep the mind and body active, feeding, bathing, assistance with activities of daily living are delayed. Health care workers have no control when there is no minimum standards for staffing levels. We need our government to care.

 

Martin Been
Saskatoon

https://thestarphoenix.com/opinion/letters/letters-to-the-editor-government-needs-to-implement-safe-staffing-levels-in-health-care-facilities

Letter to the Editor: Is the Saskatchewan health care profession in trouble? (July, 2020)

A letter to the editor from Marte Olsen, SEIU member

The question that has been playing on my mind recently is whether it’s time to leave my career in Health Care. I talk with other Health Care Employees and this question seems to not only be on my mind, but theirs as well. I hear exhausted, discouraged, defeated and angry voices in my conversations with my co-workers.

SEIU Essential Health Care Employees have gone without a pay raise for three and a half years with no pay increase in sight. The Government got their pay increases, as well as other Essential Services, but there never seems to be enough Government money or significance given to Health Care Employees. This has been an ongoing observation of mine for many years.

Do we really appreciate our Saskatchewan Health Care workers? We certainly were appreciated during the pandemic, but as this pandemic is somewhat under control and memories get short, are we are no longer seen as appreciated, as much as we are taken for granted?

I hear the younger generations make comments like, “I would never think of Health Care as a profession, you guys work too hard and don’t get paid enough” or “seems Health Care Employees are always fighting for a pay raise” or “I wouldn’t be dedicated enough to a job that I would want to look after unwell people 24/7, I would burn out after five years” or “if I’m going to risk my life it will be in a Profession that pays better than Health Care”.

After hearing these comments, it brings me to wonder, are we heading towards difficulty in our Province? Where are the so called “appreciated” Health Care Employees going to come from in the future?

All Saskatchewan SEIU Health Care Employees recently voted overwhelmingly in favour of job action to acquire a fair pay increase. With no pay raise for three and a half years, does the Saskatchewan Government truly appreciate all their Health Care workers? Is it time to consider the Health Care Profession as a “taken for granted Profession”?

Is the Health Care Profession seen as an Essential service or an “abused” service? Are we only appreciated during a crisis or are we appreciated and respected every day? These are questions at the forefront of my mind after 26 years in Health Care. 

The morale is low right now; co-workers are exhausted, feeling “used up” and are angry!

Where is this all going and who is going to take on this Profession in the future? The younger generation in our Province are watching, taking notes and deciding what Profession they are going to choose!

Marte Olsen
SEIU Member

https://www.moosejawtoday.com/opinion/letter-to-the-editor-is-the-saskatchewan-health-care-profession-in-trouble-2549146

 

Letter to the Editor: Fact or Fiction? (July, 2020)

 

Our Health Minister, Jim Reiter, continues to speak publicly about the additional people hired in our health care system under his watch. This would lend us to believe that Saskatchewan people are receiving more health care services, right? 

He clearly is not paying attention to the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) data that was made available on June 26, 2020. In the last five years, the hours of work done by home care workers has declined by 8%.

This means clients in need of home care have to pay out-of-pocket or look elsewhere for assistance. When will our Minister of Health realize that he cannot afford to continue to ignore the facts?  

As a health care provider, I am beginning to wonder if these fictions are purposeful or whether his head is just not in the game. The public needs to understand his rose-coloured narratives are just that; together, we need to demand transparency and accountability from our government.  

Our invitation still stands Mr. Reiter: come and walk a day in our shoes so you actually see what’s really going on.

 

Janice Platzke
Treasurer, SEIU-West 

https://www.moosejawtoday.com/opinion/letter-to-the-editor-fact-or-fiction-2551388

 

Letter to the Premier - Marte Olsen, Unit Clerk (July, 2020)

Good morning Premier Moe,

It’s me again! Marte Olsen, employee in LTC, SEIU Member. I have decided to make sure to thank you for something you have done in every letter I write you. This will be my 3rd letter to you.

Thank you to replying to my last letter and personally signing the reply correspondence.

Thank you for bringing attention to: $7K raised by women swimming 90 kilometre relay at Last Mountain Lake, on your face book page. One of those ladies that did that swim was my daughter. Aren’t you proud of the strength, commitment and generosity shown in Saskatchewan? That is what kind of people our Province is made of!

SEIU Health Care Employees are also part of the strong, committed, generous contribution to your Province! We are men and women that have been patient for the past 3 ½ years waiting for a fair contract settlement. When we are constantly contributing and haven’t seen anything in return.

We are feeling used, very un-appreciated, ignored and angry.

Aren’t you appreciative of your Health Care worker’s contribution to your Province?

Aren’t you grateful to be a Premier of a Province with such committed dedicated people?

Doesn’t knowing SEIU Health Care Employees are suffering financially bother your conscience?

Do you sit down at your supper table and silently give thanks and have gratitude for Health Care Employees in your Province?

Do we not contribute to the Saskatchewan economy? When you ask us to “step-up” do we not always “step-up”? 

I have so many questions I would like answers for. So many questions my co-workers would also like answers for.

SEIU Members are all still out here contributing and keeping our sick, elderly and disabled people of Saskatchewan safe so you can go about your business of making our Province strive again. We are still contributing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year BUT our patience has come to an end and my hope is that job action isn’t the only solution!

My last invitation asking you to make time to sit with me is still open.

I look forward to your reply to my invitation and/or a reply to answers to my questions.

Marte Olsen

SEIU Member

Saskatoon Sk.

Letter to the Premier - Verna Blondeau, CCA (July, 2020)

To Premier Scott Moe,

I’ve had time to digest the information - or should I say lack of it - in regards to my (in)eligibility for the Saskatchewan Temporary Wage Supplement. For frontline health care workers whose gross monthly income exceeds $2500, here’s how it boils down: some members of the health care team are eligible, and some are not – why?

For long-term care (LTC) workers, the income testing the government has established is grossly different when compared to both home care workers and hospital workers, creating a divisive inequity.  As a Continuing Care Assistant (CCA) in home care, I do the same work as my fellow CCAs who are doing incredible work in LTC.

I’ve posed this question to both my MLA and also the Minister of Finance, yet neither could give me an answer as to why home care and acute care have been excluded?? By all means I’m glad my colleagues in long-term care are eligible, they deserve it – but why doesn’t the whole health care team?

I come away feeling like members of the home care team don’t matter at all.....we are working through the entire pandemic and this is how we’re thanked? Maybe this government should ask our clients their opinion of our value; you know the actual people we take care of, who on most days we were the only masked face they have seen.

We were and continue to be there for them as we listen to their fears and try our best to alleviate those fears and answer their questions to best of our ability....so I ask you is it fair that we are left out of this Wage Supplement Program?

Does it make a person feel good about going to work where your value is measured by your government as less than their friends on the whole health care team?? This has little to do with money and more to do with feeling valued as a health care employee in Saskatchewan.

I ask that you put a stop to the income test for a wage supplement and ensure all health care providers are able to access income support. I expect a personalized letter in return answering these important questions and concerns.

 

Signed,

Verna Blondeau, CCA

Letter to the Premier- Martin Been, Office Clerk (July, 2020)

Click here to go to this letter's individual post page.

Dear Mr. Moe

I want to personally thank you for your response to the e-mail which I sent to you on July 14, 2020.  However, in my review of your reply, I feel that you’ve failed to address the issue I presented. I have some observations to share and further questions that I hope you will respond to.

I commend the Sask Party for the work it has done as noted by the 11% increase in overall staffing between 2006-07 and 2018-19. These numbers are important to you and the Sask Party government – I note that they are never accompanied by the numbers of increased beds in acute care and long term care, nor the pronounced care needs presented by our ballooning population since 2008. 

My challenge to you is that the population has increased by well over 11% and your increase in staffing numbers are inordinately low if you truly understand what is occurring in health care.

While 702 additional FTE care providers working in LTC facilities across the province since 2007 sounds impressive, it fails to provide the true numbers.  702 FTE care providers across the province translates to 702 divided by the number of LTC facilities province wide at 159 equals 4.415 FTE per facility.

Once broken down, the stat loses its impressiveness, particularly when you note the added beds in long term care since 2007.

I find it interesting that your revelation of numbers fails to include the fact that home care hours have been reduced by 8% since 2014. The loss of hours would account for a reduction in staff. This is particularly disturbing when you fully contemplate the cost savings to the ER and long term care by having seniors access quality public home care services in their homes. 

Another stat conveniently absent involves vacant positions absorbed in the system with the excess work distributed among remaining active positions.   Vacant positions result from seasoned workers retiring, or once dedicated employees exiting the system due to demoralization, stress, and fatigue.

This is an ongoing issue in health care. Also, are you aware that the number of hard to recruit classifications in health care has all but doubled under the Sask Party government?  Are you keeping track of this data?

Minister Harpauer had mentioned that SEIU-West is currently in negotiations with our employer and the best place for these matters to be worked out is at the bargaining table. Unfortunately, SAHO, the bargaining agent for the employer, which is overseen by your government, has walked away from the negotiating table.

They have confirmed at the table that the government mandate 0%, 0%, 1%, 2% & 2% is fixed and they have no authority to provide any added monetary pieces.  I suspect you are aware that this will trigger job action. 

Is your unwillingness to provide any additional monies based on your reliance that the Sask Party Essential Service Legislation will sufficiently thwart meaningful job action? Or do you believe that all health care workers are expendable?

In the midst of everything going on in the world today, I figured why not reach out to the one person who possesses the means to halt the train wreck currently occurring in Saskatchewan health care.  It seems there is a willingness to help out certain other groups – why not health care workers?

Past accomplishments by this government should not be merely admired. In regards to health care, they should be viewed as the framework for something better moving forward.

Investing in the livelihood of the residents of Saskatchewan will reap its own rewards.

 

Thank you,

Martin Been

Letter to the Prime Minister- Barbara Cape

Letter to the Premier - Marte Olsen, Unit Clerk (August, 2020)

Click here to go to this letter's individual post page.

PREMIER SCOTT MOE

Thank you for keeping your finger on the pulse of the spread of the COVID 19 virus. I truly hope that you are able to keep it under control in our Province. This pandemic is not going to magically disappear and the reality is we could all be in difficulty at any given moment! All we have to do is look at our neighbours to the South of us to know this!

When our world was notified we were in a pandemic situation, I knew immediately, Health Care workers were going to be front and centre to keep our Saskatchewan citizens safe, healthy and cared for. I knew we were going to bear the brunt of this pandemic and significant pressure would be put on us!

 

I am a single parent of a daughter who is an adult now. I knew my responsibility was to prepare for the worst outcome of possibly contracting this virus. I knew I had to have “the talk” with my daughter! As a front line LTC Employee, I cannot work from home, I don’t sit behind a desk in an office with no one coming in, I can’t work virtually and I don’t have the option of applying for the CERB program and stay at home.

 

Immediately before the pandemic provincial lock down, I updated my Will and gave a copy to my daughter. I made sure I had Power of Attorney in place. I tied up all my financial and legal documentation just in case I was one of the front line workers that would come in contact with the virus and not fare well with the outcome of it.

 

I want to tell you my most unpleasant part of working as a front line Health Care employee during this time is occasionally seeing my daughter, standing at a distance and not being able to give her a hug good-bye and to always remember to tell her I love her! The hardest part of being me right now, working on the front line of Health Care, is acting strong and not scared when your child phones everyday and asks if you are ok! The hardest part of being a front line Health Care worker is wanting to sit down and have a cry and being afraid you won’t be able to stop crying if you start! The hardest part of being a front line Health Care worker is turning off the thoughts and fear in your head when you go to bed at night and trying to get enough sleep to be able to have the energy to put your feet on the floor in the morning and start the next day all over again! The hardest part of being a front line Health Care worker is seeing the fear in your co-workers eyes, looking at them and saying “we will all be ok” knowing full well, that might not be true!!

 

At the outset, I had to make sure I had a supply of sanitization wipesfor disinfecting my home, hand sanitizer, face masks to use when I grocery shopped, clothes detergent ready for disinfecting my clothing after working all day.

 

I am sure I am not the only Health Care employee that had to personally “prepare” for this pandemic. I want you to know the preparation I went through and continue to do. This is what it’s like working on the front line of Health Care now!

 

SEIU Health Care workers have been crushed by the lack of understanding, respect and empathy that you, Scott Moe, Jim Reiter and the whole Sk. Party Government have shown all of us! I am angry knowing that designated Government officials sitting behind their desks or communicating virtually from the safety of their homes have the gall to deny SEIU front line Health Care workers a fair contract! I think anyone who is the Premier of our Province should in good conscience be standing up for the health care workers who are facing COVID daily! I think Government officials making the decision onwhether to add resources to the current insufficient mandate set by government need to understand that fairness should govern – continuing on the path of accepting cost of living increases but denying those to us is NOT fair. SEIU Provincial Health Care workers deserve a fair contract; if you disagree I suggest you (and other Government officials) should climb out of your business attire, put away your damn calculators, get out from behind your desks and the safety of your homes, throw on some scrubs and get out here and pitch in on the front line! Then all of you would know what it’s like to be us!!

 

SEIU Members are honest, hard working Saskatchewan citizens that contribute to the Saskatchewan economy and are paying the price personally and continue to pay the price day after day in order to care for our patients, clients and residents! And our families are paying the price also! Most importantly, may I point out to you, our Premier, that our families are as important to us as your family is to you!

 

I see and hear you accepting the accolades directed your way. You aren’t tackling this pandemic and keeping it under control on your own – you aren’t required to do continuous masking, nor are you providing hands-on care to COVID patients! SEIU Health Care workers are getting sore backs from you leaning on us and taking all the credit! And stop calling us heroes! We are all tired of being manipulated by your lip service!!

Where would you be without us? Think about that for a long moment!

 

I request a reply from you – and please don’t tell me that you don’t want to interfere with our collective bargaining; your mandate is indeed interfering with any successful negotiations. Your stubborn resistance to add any resources and hold firm on your ZEROES is what is causing the problem. We all deserve better and we are all worth more than ZERO!

 

Stay healthy and safe.

 

Marte Olsen

Proud Member of SEIU

Letter to the Premier - Melissa Christopherson, ORT-LPN (August, 2020)

Click here to go to this letter's individual post page.

Dear Premier Moe, MLA Nancy Heppner, and Minister of Health Jim Reiter:

I am a frontline health care provider who has worked as a Licenced Practical Nurse (LPN) in the Operating Room at St. Paul’s Hospital for the past thirteen years.

My job is to assess patients and support their families before and after surgery, and to assist the Surgeons and Anaesthesiologists during surgery. I know that every member of the health care team is vital – even more so during a pandemic.

When COVID-19 first started spreading in Saskatchewan, it felt like our health care team were the ‘guinea pigs’– and it was scary. Every day, something changed – what happened yesterday is not going to happen today – so after each shift, I wondered if I was going to come home and threaten my family’s wellbeing. We felt very alone in this process, and while trial periods often comes with the job, feeling undervalued should not.

We’re on the frontline in combating health emergencies, like COVID-19, and while we hear from politicians that we’re heroes, we certainly don’t get treated that way.

Since I’ve been working in health care, we’ve never really had fairness at the bargaining table with our employer – year after year, inflation goes up but our wages do not. I know many people who are working two or three jobs in health care, just to make ends meet.

With cohorting, that struggle is even worse. Health care workers are slowly descending into the working poor – a category that should never exist in our communities. These conditions do not attract more people to the health care sector, so our workload goes up – this is a huge safety issue for everyone involved. By ensuring fair wages, we can create a working environment that people actually want to work in.

With the election around the corner, my new MLA candidate with the Sask Party knocked on my door. They began thanking me for my support, but I told them, you don’t have it now. Not after the lack of respect our health care team has felt over the years, and particularly during this pandemic.

While MLAs get raises each year that reflect inflation, we do not.  Why is your job more important than mine? We are constantly told we’re so essential, but that phrase is being thrown around like water – if  we’re so essential, then pay us what we’re worth – let’s see those words put into action.

I am asking that you each write back personally, as I do not want another canned response. And please don’t remind me that you took a 3% wage cut a few years ago – that cut is a drop in the bucket on your salaries – for health care workers, it could mean affording rent.

As our government representatives, you need to put muscle behind your words of thanks. Please do your part to ensure health care providers have the backing of their government to work on living wages and receive a cost of living increase each year – and that means ensuring the proper investment in health care.

I look forward to your response,

Melissa Christopherson, constituent of Nancy Heppner

Letter to the Editor: Can you believe this is what our Sask Party government calls ‘fairness’? (August, 2020)

Click here to go to this letter's individual post page.

Can you believe this is what our Sask Party government calls ‘fairness’?

As a result of COVID, the temporary wage supplement was introduced by the federal government and primarily funded by them, but it’s up to the provinces to implement this payment for essential workers – and it’s for a limited four month period.

In most provinces it is automatically given to all health care workers because they are considered essential. But not here in Saskatchewan! In Saskatchewan if you are a Continuing Care Assistant (CCA) and you provide personal care to a resident in a long term care home, you are eligible to apply for this supplement.

However, if you are a CCA and provide bedside care to patients in a hospital you are not eligible. If you are a Licensed Practical Nurse that provides nursing care such as medication administration in a long term care home or an integrated facility, you are eligible to apply. However, if you are a LPN in home care and you are doing the same work, you are not eligible.

It doesn’t stop there. At Saskatoon City Hospital, there is a whole unit (8700) where the patients cannot live independently so they are receiving care until a spot can be found in a long term care facility. If you are working in this facility, you are not eligible.

Some might say this doesn’t make sense and I am one of them!

What makes matters worse is the cohorting. An employee with two part-time jobs; one in hospital and one in long term care may be directed by the SHA to work exclusively in the hospital, thereby depriving them of their eligibility. And if you are one of these workers and you write to the Minister of Health asking why you aren’t eligible — guess what? You will receive a form letter from the Minister of Finance.

This is what our Sask Party government calls ‘fairness’ — is this how you would treat health care workers in the midst of a pandemic?
 
Janice Platzke
Treasurer of SEIU-West

https://www.moosejawtoday.com/opinion/letter-to-the-editor-can-you-believe-this-is-what-our-sask-party-government-calls-fairness-2649052

Letter to Premier Scott Moe and Jim Reiter (August, 2020)

Click here to go to this letter's individual post page

Premier Scott Moe and Jim Reiter

We are a group of CCAs that work in LTC. Collectively, we have decided to have our voices heard about our working conditions and our opinion regarding our lack of a contract for three and a half years!

We have been working short staffed for years and this has escalated since March of this year. Cohorting has not allowed staff to come into our Facility. We are having understaffing issues that are bordering on Occupational Health and Safety violations. We are all exhausted and worn out and we all know, working under those conditions is not healthy for us or the Residents we care for.

Mistakes get made working under these conditions and pressure! Mistakes are something no one wants at this time, not even you. Our families want the best of us; but when we come home so exhausted, there is little quality time spent with our families. Our families matter to us too!

We have wrung ourselves out caring for our Residents keeping them cared for and safe during this pandemic. We have been care givers and extended family to our Residents. We have shopped on our off time for our Residents, we have laughed with them, talked with them and cried with them. When one of our Residents passes away, we don’t even have time to grieve the loss!!

As for our outstanding three and a half year contract, you have disappointed every one of us! We just shake our heads and wonder what you expect of us working at this pace, and on top of it all, you and your Government are telling all of us and our co-workers we are worth ZERO! We would all like you to know, we ARE worth more than ZERO!

Our Residents think we are worth more than ZERO! Our Residents’ families think we are worth more than ZERO! You have made yourself very unpopular as the Premier in our Province with every SHA Employee. You have sat back and watched your Provincial Health Care workers being insulted with Zeros and neither one of you stepped up on our behalf! Everyone of us are your Saskatchewan citizens.

We contribute to our communities; we pay taxes to our Cities and small towns as well as our Provincial Government. We are all voters!

We DO NOT want a reply to this letter. We want you to use your power as the Premier to see that we get a fair contract. If you won’t do that, we want you to take a drive to Saskatoon, come into our Facility, sit down with us and look us all in the eye and tell us to our faces that we are all worth ZERO to you and your Saskatchewan citizens!!

 

LTC Employees

SEIU Members

Saskatoon

 

Marino Balicanta

Lacey Rau

Oksana Sakhats

Lagria Gayeah

Alma Bartsch

Annze Uche

Chloe Schulte

Blanche Gerard

Esther Ogunrinde

Response to Politicians: Melissa Christopherson, ORT-LPN (August 2020)

Dear Premier Moe, MLA Nancy Heppner, Minister of Health Jim Reiter, and Minister of Finance Donna Harpauer:

I recently sent a letter to the Premier, Minister of Health, and my MLA, Nancy Heppner regarding the state of health care, and I’m hoping each of you will respond to my concerns.

From my MLA, I received a message that basically told me to not bother her. First off, being told that she’s is  “unable” to engage in discussion about collective bargaining is not accurate because to my knowledge, there is absolutely no legislation that speaks to that – if there is, please share that with me. But from what I gathered, it’s simply a way of saying my MLA doesn’t want to their job and engage with their constituent’s issues. Nancy did not even speak to the hardships I described around my fear of getting my family ill, workload concerns, and worry that health care is not attracting new team members – these issues are not collective bargaining issues, but are human rights issues due to the effects on residents, patients, and their staff.  Nancy, I hope that you respond to this letter with more understanding to the everyday challenges I face each and every day in health care.

Meanwhile, the Premier and Minister of Health are silent and did not respond to my letter – they passed the buck to the Minister of Finance who stated “the best place for these matters to be worked out is at the bargaining table.” 

My coworkers and I continue to convey the truth that it is the government who holds the purse strings to heath care. It’s past time for you to get involved and make sure we don’t have a strike on our hands.

And I urge you, please respond to the very real fears I and my fellow health care workers have around being the ‘guinea pigs’ in facing a pandemic – while our MLAs were able to work from home and close the legislature, we were on the front lines. As our elected officials, we expect better from you – have some empathy.

Sincerely,

Melissa Christopherson, constituent of Nancy Heppner

Letter to the Premier - Lindsay Sellar , MOA (August, 2020)

Click here to go to this letter's individual post page.

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.

 

Thank you,

 

Lindsay Sellar, constituent of Hon. Don Morgan

Letter to Politicians: Worker Safety Committee (August, 2020)

Click here to read the PDF. 

August 28, 2020

Delivered via Email 

Premier Scott Moe

Premier of Saskatchewan

226 Legislative Building

Regina, SK S4S 0B3

Hon. Warren Kaeding

Minister of Rural and Remote Health

Room 208, Legislative Building

2405 Legislative Drive

Regina, SK S4S 0B3

Hon. Jim Reiter

Minister of Health

Room 204, Legislative Building

2405 Legislative Drive

Regina, SK S4S 0B3

Hon. Bronwyn Eyre

Room 340, Legislative Building

2405 Legislative Drive

Regina, SK S4S0B3

Mr. Ryan Meili

Leader of the Opposition

814 3rd Avenue North

Saskatoon, SK S7K 2K2

Hon. Paul Merriman

Minister of Social Services

Room 303, Legislative Building

2405 Legislative Drive

Regina, SK  S4S 0B3

Mr. Greg Brkich, MLA

Box 1077

Davidson, SK  S0G1A0

Mr. Greg Brkich, MLA

Box 1077

Davidson, SK  S0G1A0

Ms. Danielle Chartier, MLA

1030 Avenue L South

Saskatoon, SK  S7M 2J5

Mr. Greg Lawrence, MLA

404B Lillooet Street West

Moose Jaw, SK  S6H 7T1

 

Ms. Vicki Mowat, MLA

#16-15 Worobetz Place

Saskatoon, SK  S7L 6R4

 

 

Members of the SEIU-West Worker Safety Committee (WSC) are writing you in order to get answers and action on a number of concerns in both health care and the community-based organization (CBO) sectors.

Understaffing has become the norm for many health care providers and the patients, residents, and clients (PRCs) we care for. PRCs constantly see us rushing to meet the needs of those we care for, and many have also written to you about this crisis in health care (often receiving a canned response, which we specifically ask you not to do with our letter). It is in these unsafe conditions that frontline providers are going above and beyond to try to get everything done that we need to, but at a cost: with low staffing comes declining morale, increased risk of both physical and psychological injury, and high turnover.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been asked to go above and beyond, yet again. The pandemic has resulted in daily screening, increased personal protective equipment (PPE), and we must come to work and change before and after our shift—at our expense. These steps add approximately 20 minutes of unpaid time to each and every shift in order to follow Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) guidelines. To add to this, many frontline health providers have allergies that are exacerbated by wearing a mask for extended periods of time; some of us must take allergy pills daily because of this. We believe the guidelines are designed to keep us safe, and so we oblige. But if we are willing to do all of this to follow guidelines, why won’t the government realize that our dedication to providing safe care has worth? The fact that three years of bargaining and a health crisis hasn’t moved the bargaining process along, appears as a tongue in cheek when we’re called “heroes” and “vital” by politicians and decision-makers. 

We, as workers for the SHA, have had to tolerate many years of understaffing, PPE shortages, and a lack of resources all in the name of cost savings. Where have all these cost savings gone? Why are we, hardworking people, expected to carry the load of poor business decisions? All we want is a fair wage and to be treated with respect. We have not had a raise in four years, meanwhile, you have received a raise each year while making double the salaries of most health care providers. Our workload has doubled with no sign of relief, has yours? To our knowledge, the government actually added MLAs due to workload—why won’t you recognize the same hardships in our line of work? When is our value as frontline health care providers going to be recognized? We know you hold the purse strings for SAHO, so let’s see your words of “vital” and “heroes” put into action. Show us we are valuable. Show us we are not disposable.

In the CBO sector, we too face short-staffing most days, which is a challenge for the staff. As in health care, rushing around leads to injuries. There have been a lot of injuries in our shoulders, elbows, and backs due to lifting and transferring on our own. It is time for this government to treat this sector with the respect it should—people with disabilities deserve quality care, and that means ensuring stable funding for these organizations to thrive. Will this government commit to stable, reliable, multi-year funding for CBOs that provide vital services to our province’s most vulnerable?

The WSC included the Premier, the Leader of the Official Opposition, and all our MLAs on this letter as well as the Ministers responsible for health care and social services. We ask that you each respond to our questions in this letter, and do your job acting on behalf of your constituents.

Signed,

The SEIU-West Worker Safety Committee, comprised of:

 

Kevin Fallis, St. Paul’s Hospital, Constituent of Bronwyn Eyre

Denise McConnell, Variety Place, Constituent of Greg Brkich

Marj Markwart, St. Paul’s Hospital, Constituent of Danielle Chartier

Maureen Colmin, Pioneer Lodge, Constituent of Greg Lawrence

Bev Sopczak, Brief and Social Detox, Constituent of Vicki Mowat

 

cc:        Barbara Cape, President, SEIU-West

            Catherine Gendron, Education Coordinator, SEIU-West

            Marilyn Irwin, Benefits Coordinator, SEIU-West

            SEIU-West Worker Safety Committee

Letter to the Premier - Mandy Gryba , CCA (September, 2020)

Click here to go to this letter's individual post page.

Mr. Premier,

This is an email that has been sent to my MLA Danielle Chartier. I wanted to make sure you were sent it directly in the hopes myself and my co workers can be heard!

 

Danielle

I am reaching out to you again in the hopes you will be our voice to the officials making the decisions regarding top up wages for health care workers.

The wage supplement that was given out to  certain staff under specific guidelines is unfair and insulting.

Many of us have .56 or .75 positions at Homecare. Meaning that,  .56 is just over part time and .75 is 3/4 time. There are very few full time positions to be had, and are given out on a seniority  basis.

Our wages are terrible!

We are topped out at $23.17 and hour and not guaranteed full time hours. Many of us have to rely on picking up extra shifts or working at two facilities where and when we can, to get full time hours.

This is exactly what we have done throughout the covid pandemic as well. We lost some staff due to cohorting, and staff with small kids who couldn’t find childcare due to schools being closed. The rest of us picked up the unfilled shifts  when there was no one else to work, so clients wouldn’t suffer.  It makes us all wonder why we did this?

Had we not gone in and worked the extra hours, putting  our selves at even more risk, we would qualify for the wage top up.

In the Star Phoenix today, this is being reported

Saskatchewan’s government will give out less than half of a joint federal-provincial fund meant to top up essential workers’ pay in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The temporary wage supplement was intended to assist workers in facilities where essential care was being provided, some of whom might have made the decision to leave their jobs in favour of collecting other benefits like the federal Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB),” he wrote. “This was not a recognition program or form of hazard pay. It was a program to encourage workers to stay on the job in critical care settings during the pandemic.”

I as most of my coworkers did not leave our jobs to collect cerb. As CCA’s we all do the same job description, just at different facilities. I am asking why only  staff working in certain facilities were given this “top up””?

Are patients living in long term care more important than our seniors living in the community? Do government officials not care if Homecare staff walk away and collect Cerb, and leave the vulnerable uncared for in their homes? That is what they are indirectly telling us. Most of us don’t qualify because we pick up the open shifts pushing us over the $2500.00 gross cap.

Then we were all excited to hear that we would be qualifying for the top up because it was being opened up without a cap. Once again major slap in the face because we were not included in this.

If we do indeed get a second wave of COVID-19 I wonder what the government is going to do when they have no staff to do the job. Many staff might just decline unfilled shifts. There are a lot of upset, angry healthcare workers.

Maybe some government officials will have to go care for their loved ones, because many of us won’t feel the need to step up and help when the government doesn’t step up for us.

In the media health care workers are being hailed as hero’s by Scott Moe and Goverment officials, what an utter insult and far cry from the way we are treated.

 

Mandy Gryba

CCA at Saskatoon Homecare

Open Letter to the Premier- Lab Services (September 2020)

Letter to the Premier and Minister of Health: Parkridge Frontline Staff (September 2020)

Premier Scott Moe & Health Minister Jim Reiter,

SEIU Health Care workers in Long Term Care, Home Care and Acute Care are wondering what it’s like to have the power to determine the value of dedicated, loyal Health Care employees of SHA? How do you determine our merit and value? Do you see us as Saskatchewan people making a honourable living by caring for the elderly, disabled, sick and most vulnerable or do you only see us as a debit in your provincial budget? Do you see us as worthy of respect?

Have you and Jim Reiter ever truly discussed the valuable contributions that SEIU-West and other Saskatchewan health care employees have made and are making in your Province? If you haven’t, maybe it’s time you did!

We understand that many of our co-workers have repeatedly tried to correspond with you to share their frustration with our long overdue contract, as well as their concerns about chronic understaffing and safety in the care environment.  Many of these members have received a response letter from the Minister of Finance, Donna Harpauer.   Quite honestly, this direction is telling – it seems like all the previous concerns and comments from our co-workers have fallen on deaf ears! It has become very obvious to us; we are disposable to our government – the only visible concern appears to budgetary-driven and there does not appear to be any consideration regarding our dedication, appreciation, loyalty, caring or sacrifices! It also has become very clear to us that these replies show no regard for the reality that we care for the most vulnerable of people in all of our communities.

You are the leaders in our Province that have the power to intervene as our bargaining remains in a standstill and this should be an opportunity to demonstrate our worth to the Province. We do know that the SAHO bargaining committee takes direction from you. We all are worth far more than 0-0-1-2-2 % over 5 years; we voted on that offer almost 16 months ago and this offer was rejected. We need you to give direction to SAHO before they can move to provide a fair offer.  We are asking for you to stand up for health care.

We strongly recommend that you, along with your Health Minister and SAHO, give careful thought and consideration to our long overdue contract; we require your commitment to resolve our present chronic understaffing issues along with our growing retention and recruitment challenges. You can put all the money you want into repairs of hospitals, clinics and long term care facilities but you still need quality dedicated staff to work in these buildings and to maintain them! You can spend all the money you want on new equipment but you still need us to operate and maintain this equipment!

SEIU-West member contributions to Health Care in this Province are endless! The public sees this now more than ever as we stretch our resources every day to meet the demands of COVID.  It’s about time our Government of Saskatchewan demonstrated value for these contributions and the sacrifices we make every day.

We are done waiting! We are fully prepared to stand up for our self worth and stand together to support each other in all of our communities. Ignoring us is not an option anymore!

Please ensure that you send us a reply from you – we have already heard from the Minister of Finance.

Saskatchewan SEIU Members

Standing Strong Together

 

Letter to the Minister of Health and MLA - Charise Bull, CCA (October, 2020)

Dear Minister of Health, Jim Reiter and MLA, Doug Steele,

I am a Continuing Care Assistant (CCA) presently working at The Meadows in Swift Current. We have one of the first “home like” facilities operating in Saskatchewan. This building and the way it is organized is amazing. It’s a comfortable home like setting which makes transitioning to long term care much easier for our residents. The meals that are prepared are homemade and fresh. The only thing that is missing from this amazing building is adequate staffing. I currently work in a permanent full-time 12 hour position. I have been at The Meadows since it opened. My duties include tending to residents basic hygiene needs, social needs, mobility needs, cooking, cleaning, laundry, baking, and monitoring resident care needs, as well as, responding to them when they require assistance throughout my shift. We have 10 residents per house with 2 CCA’s working. One 12 hour and one 8 hour.  This means that 4 hours of my shift I am left totally alone to meet the needs of our 10 residents.  During this time,  I try to ensure that all their needs have been met while prepping, cooking, serving, feeding, doing dishes, and cleaning the kitchen during meal time. We are often rushed through all the duties of our day because we have so much on our plates. Put yourself in our shoes for a minute. Just think of all we have to do. If resident A needs to use the washroom I have to turn my potatoes off (cause I don’t want them to boil over) and take that resident to the washroom.  If the resident is a total lift and it might take 20 minutes which puts our meals behind. Or I have to say “I’m sorry, you are going to have to wait because I have to make supper”.  Neither option is helpful to quality of care. During the 8 hours when both staff members are present, we find ourselves rushing through resident care just so we have time to get a meal prepared.  During those 4 hours, I am doing the job of two and getting paid one wage.

We are severely understaffed and CCA’s are experiencing caregiver burnout at an alarming rate. I am so physically and mentally exhausted at the end of a shift that I sometimes go home and cry because I feel like I have failed our residents. I feel they are not receiving the timely compassionate quality care that they deserve. Residents have often asked why we are always so short staffed. A standard reply is always “This is what the government has funded for staffing”.

I became a CCA almost 5 years ago because I wanted to take care of people. I wanted to make sure that their last home in life would be great for them. If I wanted to be a cook or a dishwasher, I would have stayed at my restaurant job.

Now let’s talk about wages. We have been without a contract for almost 4 years. This is unacceptable. We bust our butts to take care of our most vulnerable people and the government shows zero appreciation for us. Since the pandemic started and long term care has restricted visitors, staff have had to step up and provide more even support to our residents. Our residents don’t understand why they can’t see their families.  Families have been put in the difficult position of having to choose who gets to be with their loved one in their final moments. These situations are hard on families and residents; as staff we know it is important to comfort them in their time of need.

I want you to know that we are done waiting. We need our government to give us a FAIR contract ASAP so that we are not forced to take job action.  Unfortunately your decision-making (to date) has created a care environment where the residents are suffering -  it is not fair to them as this is not their fault.

I invite you to come to our facility and sit in my house during my shift so you can see for yourself  what we do in a day and understand the resident care experience.

Sincerely,

Charise Bull, CCA

The Meadows, Swift Current SK