For Immediate Release: March 23, 2020
Saskatoon – Members of SEIU-West are concerned about the Saskatchewan government’s recently released spending plan for the 2020-21 fiscal year. The plan is not good news for the sectors and workers who stand to be among the most affected by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, and who have a critical role to play in mitigating the crisis.
While the document mentions a cash reserve to address the impacts of COVID-19, the only staff mentioned are “doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals” which neglects the vast majority of front line members of the health care team.
“Not only are our Continuing Care Assistants and Licensed Practical Nurses who are providing hands on care at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, every single worker who supports health care services play a critical role in preventing the spread of infections,” continued Cape. “Where is the assurance that they’ll have access to appropriate personal protective equipment like gloves and masks? Where are the policies that will ensure that they don’t unknowingly bring infection into the facility or carry infection out into the community or to their own families?”
Another group neglected in the spending plans are workers who provide front line services to the cognitively disabled – an especially vulnerable population for whom self-care and social distancing can be especially difficult – in Community-Based Organizations (CBOs). The government’s plan promises increased funding to the service agencies, with no guarantees the increase will be used to recruit and retain care staff.
“We have seen this before. The government sets aside additional funding for CBOs but fail to direct that the money is to be spent specifically on front line staff,” said Cape. “One good solution would be to ensure there is multi-year funding to maintain services so that when things like this pandemic happen, there is stability for the clients and less need to spend funds on last minute plans.”
“This spending plan neglects to address education staff and their abruptly ended school year without clear direction and a guarantee that they aren’t being laid off for the rest of the school year. This is not a budget, this is not a pandemic plan and this is not how we will all get through this crisis. It’s frankly a little bizarre that the front line working people who are running into the fire of the pandemic, are the ones left out in the cold. Our message to government is that they need to do better in order for all of us to come together during this crisis,” finished Cape.
SEIU-West has set up a page dedicated to information about the coronavirus for their members (https://www.seiuwest.ca/covid_19_coronavirus).
Service Employees International Union West (SEIU-West) represents over 13,000 people across Saskatchewan. They include people who work in health care, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors. They are joined by one colour – purple – and one union – SEIU-West. Visit PurpleWorks.ca to find out more about SEIU-West members.
For more information, contact:
Christine Miller, Communications Coordinator