Once again, the heavy hand of Premier Scott Moe and the Sask. Party has come down on the very health care workers working in hospitals, long-term care facilities and peoples' homes, providing the quality care that all people of Saskatchewan have come to expect.
We all know there is a current COVID pandemic crisis in Saskatchewan, brought on in part because of the Delta variant and in part because of the premier’s reluctance to go back to public health orders that actually work to reduce the spread of the virus. The SHA and affiliates had asked the health care unions to negotiate a new Letter of Understanding (LOU) to replace the LOU on staff redeployment and cohorting that expired in July of this year. In the middle of these negotiations, the Premier unilaterally imposed a Minister’s Order that compelled all SHA and affiliate employers and employees that been covered by the previous expired LOU regarding staff redeployment, labour pools and cohorting to comply with the terms in that LOU, even though it had legally expired.
Make no mistake, this mandated direction is not an LOU, was not negotiated with the unions and was definitely not agreed to by the unions, including SEIU-West.
The irony for us all is that our Premier, while having no compunction about imposing measures taking away our rights in our Collective Agreements, won’t impose a masking order or other public health measures that would help stem the flow of new COVID cases and help relieve the pressure on our health care system. Instead he continues to turn a blind eye to the major health issues in our province and fails to take the safety of the entire population into account.
Our Premier is using health care workers to distract the public’s attention from what needs to happen – putting in place public health measures that are fair and enforced equally, even if they are not popular with some residents of the province.
We know we can beat COVID, but we need our government to show leadership, show responsibility and engage everyone in this fight, not just health care workers.
SEIU-West will have discussions with the SHA regarding the implementation of this ‘mandate’. SEIU-west demands fair and equitable treatment of its members affected by the minister’s order and that the SHA meaningfully demonstrates its ‘sensitivity to its employees needs and desires’ during the time of this order.
SEIU-West encourages all our members to get vaccinated, wear a mask when in public, wash your hands often, maintain social/physical distance, keep your bubble small, follow all safety protocols and stay home if you are not feeling well.