During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are not seeing our members shy away from challenges, but face them head-on with the courage and professionalism that I, for one, cannot thank them enough for. 

Our members are continuing to provide the best care possible. Whether its Environmental Service Workers ensuring the vital need for clean health care environments, or the Continuing Care Assistants (CCAs) and Direct Care Workers (DCWs) providing hands-on care for people who are feeling particularly vulnerable in our health care and community-based sectors. Our education sector members are supporting their students as they head home for an indefinite period of time, while uncertain about what happens for themselves and their families after March 27. 

It is this selflessness that I find so remarkable, and prompted a friend of SEIU-West to say ‘My thoughts and gratitude are with every health care worker’.

It is workers like these that make our society run, and their leadership makes them everyday heroes.

It is imperative that we look out for each other in times of crisis, and that means ensuring workers have what they need to provide care and services to our communities. We are hearing that members are concerned about a lack of supplies, staff, and direction or communication in all areas of work.

Our government must demonstrate better leadership and stop sending mixed messages. If we want to encourage social distancing and not put further stress on our health care system, paid support for child care and sick leave is necessary in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must be in stock, and measures to limit related purchases at stores should be put into effect provincially.

As SEIU-West has been expressing for years, understaffing is a serious crisis in Saskatchewan’s health care sector – this will be made only clearer during this outbreak. Returning provincially legislated safe staffing levels would immediately address this growing concern. The health care sector is continually facing retention and recruitment issues, so it is vital that our government value and respect our province’s health care team – it takes more than just words, and requires action.

As we navigate our way through the current pandemic, SEIU-West wants to thank each and every one of our members who work in health care, CBOs, education, municipalities, and private facilities. Remember to look out for one another and if you’re not feeling well, do not go to work. Let your employer know and please contact 811 for COVID-19 medical/health related questions. We will continue to provide updates as we receive them and know that as always, your union has your back.

Our members are heroes…not just during a crisis or an outbreak – but every damn day! Thank you all.

In Solidarity,

Barb Cape, President of SEIU-West 

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