March 2, 2021
As you know, SEIU-West and the other Saskatchewan health care unions have been participating in a number of vaccine-related committees, including the 'Vaccine Hesitancy Task Team' and the 'Vaccine Uptake Group'. Our focus remains on ensuring that our members who want to take the vaccine are a priority group identified in Phase 1. This position is supported as a best practice by the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations.
While we recognize vulnerable populations need to be vaccinated as well, only frontline health care staff in Saskatchewan who have been defined by Minister of Health Paul Merriman as "patient-facing" are to be vaccinated in Phase 1. This is a problem because even though not all of us are hands-on with patients, all of our work is patient-centered and we are all continuously at risk because of where we work and what we do.
What about the unit assistant working on a unit where 50% of the staff are getting vaccinated, but because he is managing patient paperwork, he isn’t getting vaccinated in Phase 1? Or the trades and maintenance staff who keep the pumps, ducts, air exchangers working in a facility, but don’t have N95 masks or priority sequencing in Phase 1?
What about our dietary and housekeeping staff who routinely move about health care facilities?
We had to appeal to get cardiology techs into Phase 1 because they move throughout the hospital including critical units like ER, ICU, and COVID units.
We had to fight to get homecare staff who work in vulnerable locations like the Lighthouse onto the Phase 1 list.
We will keep fighting for you.
Below you will find a SHA flow chart that outlines the process if you’re not sure your classification is on the Phase 1 list. Included is an "interpretation review" form, if you would like clarity from the Minister of Health and SHA.
This priority list was established by the Government of Saskatchewan, so if you don’t see your classification reflected on the list and you are concerned why you are not being offered a vaccine as a priority, please email the Minister of Health, Paul Merriman (or phone him at 306-244-5623) to request inclusion on the Phase 1 list and/or ask why your classification wasn’t included.