We have been receiving a lot of calls from our members about going to help at Parkside Extendicare. This for-profit long-term care facility is experiencing a serious outbreak of COVID-19 that has seen well over one hundred residents test positive. In addition to this, many of their staff have tested positive or are off self-isolating due to exposure.
As you may know, this is not a Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) facility, nor is it an affiliate through the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO). As such, there is not a mechanism to move our members there through the collective agreement nor through the temporary letter of understanding on redeployment, labour pools, and cohorting.
We have had many conversations with the SHA over the past few days on how we can help in this crisis situation. We took the position that a number of simple principles would need to be met for this to happen and shared them with the SHA.
- First and foremost, the facility would need to adopt the health and safety protocols of the SHA, including, but not limited to, personal protective equipment (PPE). These changes would need to be made before any CUPE members work any shifts at the facility.
- Only health care workers who volunteer would be assigned to work at the facility.
- Workers assigned there would receive an appropriate orientation to ensure their health and safety.
- Prior to volunteering, CUPE members would be given all pertinent information to be able to make informed decisions. How long will the assignment be? What is my work schedule or rotation? Do I have to isolate before returning to my home facility?
- Any isolation period required after reassignment to the facility or before returning to the home facility would be paid by the pandemic pay provisions and not sick leave.
- SHA workers would be returned to their home positions without delay once the Parkside workers have returned to work.
- The SHA workers who agree to go to Parkside Extendicare would have their schedules remain the same as in their home facility, and where they are not, the premium pay provisions of the collective agreement would apply.
- An SHA manager would be on site to assist with any issues that arise (PPE, health and safety, scheduling, and so on) and provide support to our members.
- The union will be informed of which members have volunteered to take on this assignment, and regular daily communication between the SHA and the union would take place to ensure protocols are followed to keep our members safe.
- Workers shall remain employees of the SHA, follow the collective agreement, and will remain or be made whole for the duration of the assignment.
The above principles have been agreed to.
Many of you have reached out to tell us that Parkside Extendicare is paying their employees who are able to continue working premium pay for all hours worked, including straight time. Be assured that we brought this forward to the executive leadership of the SHA through our discussions with labour relations to see an equitable provision for CUPE members. However, a similar arrangement will not be offered by the SHA to employees who voluntarily agree to be temporarily redeployed to Parkside Extendicare.
We know now that the SHA has signed a co-management agreement with Parkside Extendicare. This will see them assume responsibility for the day-to-day operations at Parkside.
A broadcast for workers to volunteer to be deployed to Parkside Extendicare will go out to CUPE members tonight. This deployment is to be done strictly on a voluntary basis.
Tonight, we were assured that all staff who haven’t been fit tested for an N95 mask will be fit tested before working any shifts at Parkside Extendicare. An Infection Control practitioner will be present at the facility every day. In addition, an incident command centre will be set up on site. All SHA infection prevention and control policies will be put into place and PPE is being provided by the SHA. An appropriate orientation will happen before the first shift worked to ensure safety of all workers. Should you volunteer to be deployed to Parkside you will be provided with the contact information for a SHA manager or designate who will be available to resolve concerns.
We believe that there will be CUPE members who step in to help out and we will be here to support you. Please contact us if you need assistance with any concerns.
- Main office: 306-546-2185