Member Update: COVID-19 (coronavirus)

I want to thank all of you for your questions and patience as we gather information for you on the operations of SEIU-West and updated information from our various employers.

  • As of today, all SEIU-West offices are closed to walk in traffic. We are practicing social distancing within our office environment and are not working from home at this time.
  • All of our unit meetings are cancelled until further notice. With health care facilities closed to visitors, it’s in all of our best interests to postpone union meetings until we can gather and share information. We will be posting regular updates on our website and Facebook.
  • We have cancelled all member education for the next 30 days and will assess at that time if further cancellations are needed.
  • Our efforts for our members are redirected to focus on this outbreak of COVID-19. We are not attending in person meetings and will adjust those to phone, and video conferencing. We are reaching out to employers to coordinate how this will work for bargaining tables across the province. We also believe that in-person meetings should only be held if they are of an essential nature only.
  • We are reviewing whether or not union offices in SEIU-West affiliated facilities will remain open and will update you accordingly.

We are reaching out to all of our employers to get updates on the work they are doing to keep their facilities safe for our members. We want to know:

  • what sort of protocols are in place;
  • what personal protective equipment (PPE) is being utilized;
  • what avenues for childcare are being developed with our members;
  • how will employees get paid if their facility is closed?

SEIU-West is calling out to our member leaders in the workplace to gather much needed information on what you need and what are your challenges at this time.

Frequently Asked Questions/Concerns – Health Care:

  • How do I come to work if I don’t have child care and the schools are closed? We have been talking with the Ministry of Health and the SHA about options they are exploring; there are LOA provisions in our collective agreements; and there can be an accommodation based on family status, but members have to show that they have tried to find alternate methods to address this need.
  • I have holidays booked but all the flights have been cancelled, what do I do? If your holiday plans were cancelled because of the travel ban, you can request to reverse your vacation. If the employer doesn’t agree, please contact the Member Resource Centre (MRC) to access some assistance with this problem – call the MRC at 1.888.999.7348 ext. 2298 (province-wide) or through email.
  • I’m concerned about my safety and exposure to the coronavirus, what do I do? If you work in community or home care, ensure you are receiving clear direction and guidance from your manager about potential exposure. Ensure that you have proper PPE and that questions about client exposure have been addressed by your manager/employer. If you feel that you are in an unsafe situation, please identify that to your manager and report it to your Occupational Health Committee (OHC).

Frequently Asked Questions and Concerns – Education:

We have outstanding questions with our three school divisions for our members who are affected by the closures due to COVID -19.

  • Chinook School Division & Southeast Cornerstone Public School Division (SECPSD) are both on a mandatory shutdown, directed by the Ministry of Education, for one week, effective next week. All staff will be paid at regular time – not sick time. They have no idea beyond March 27th what the plan is – but they are implementing “business continuity plans”.
    •  Our questions include: is there a plan for layoffs? Will staff be paid straight time and benefits provided? Is there a plan for enhanced cleaning of school?
  • We have reached out to Holy Family Roman Catholic School Division for an update.
  • We will be reaching out to the Ministry of Education for further details.

Frequently Asked Questions/Concerns:

We continue to field questions from members in group homes, Canadian Blood Services, retirement homes and beyond.

  • If you are unsure if your facility is subject to the ban on visitors to health care or related facilities, you can find more information at www.saskatchewan.ca/COVID-19 or contact the MRC at 1-888-999-7348 ext. 2298 or by email at www.seiuwest.ca/contact
  • We have raised concerns with Canadian Blood Services continuing to hold ongoing blood donor banks without sufficient screening specific to the COVID-19 criteria. We would also like to see upgraded PPE for our members managing in this environment with the public.

If you are sick, stay home. If you are exhibiting the symptoms of COVID-19, call 811 to get direction on testing.

I know a number of you are a little scared and freaked out…this is an unprecedented response and impacts all parts of society. Be good to yourself. Be kind to others – use social distancing. Don’t listen to the baloney on Facebook… go to the public health agency of Canada website www.canada.ca/en/public-health.html or the www.saskatchewan.ca/COVID-19 site for accurate and up to date information.

Call the MRC at 1-888-999-7348 ext. 2298 for more information.

We will keep you updated as this outbreak evolves.

In solidarity,

Barbara Cape
President SEIU-West

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