There are more changes coming in the next few weeks.
We know that you and all the other health care providers have carried the heavy burden of the pandemic for the last 15 months.
As you are likely aware, the province has hit the target it set for first dose vaccinations, and we have heard the premier state that on July 11, 2021 all public health restrictions will be lifted in Saskatchewan as Phase 3 of the re-opening roadmap plan.
On April 17, 2020 CUPE, together with all other health care unions, signed a temporary letter of understanding (LOU) with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) and the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations. This temporary LOU provided for the formation of labour pools, redeployment of employees, cohorting, and in some cases the use of a supplemental workforce for COVID-19 related work.
The trigger to end this temporary LOU is 28 days following the lifting of the state of emergency. The state of emergency was issued on March 20, 2020 by the Government of Saskatchewan pursuant to the provisions of The Emergency Planning Act. The stated purpose was to address the COVID-19 public health emergency. The state of emergency must be either lifted or extended after two weeks. The government has extended it through an order in council every two weeks up to and including on June 22, 2021. This means that a decision will be made on July 5th to either lift the state of emergency or once again renew it.
On June 22, 2021 CUPE asked a ministry spokesperson when the state of emergency would be lifted given the messaging around the July 11th lifting of all public health restrictions. We were told that the premier decides this. It would be nonsensical to maintain a state of emergency to address a public health emergency and at the same time lift all public health restrictions in the public health order.
Is the state of emergency being maintained to extend the temporary LOU?
We are meeting with representatives of the SHA soon to better understand their process of what they call a staged staffing plan to transition from the temporary LOU.
Some of the provisions of the temporary LOU are also part of the public health orders issued by Dr. Shahab, specifically, the cohorting of workers to a single site for long-term care and personal care homes. For those of you who work in long-term care and held more than one position, you will have been cohorted to a single site since April 28, 2020.
As long-term care homes have opened up to increased visitation, and the province has loosened many restrictions, CUPE has questioned the value of maintaining the cohorting. We believe any benefit of cohorting is now outweighed by the increased visitors and reduced restrictions. We also know that while cohorting has had its benefits, it hasn’t been perfect. It was executed quickly, and some of our members ended up cohorted to a facility where they simply didn’t get any or enough hours. Meanwhile, a facility down the road, where the member could have been cohorted to, was suffering with workload issues and a lot of overtime. To make matters worse, the SHA refused to even look at these individual cases to rebalance the cohorting assignments.
We are hearing from you that you are ready to go back and that the facilities need you as some of them are very short staffed.
We understand that once the cohorting provision of the public health order is lifted on July 11th, the SHA intends to return cohorted workers to their former facilities as they were prior to cohorting. They will begin with the relief employees immediately on that date and then move to part-time and full-time staff by August 8th.
Is this stage one of the “staged plan” to transition from the LOU? How long will the remaining stages take? How long will the government use the declaration of the state of emergency to hold health care workers – the heroes of this pandemic – hostage to labour pools, redeployment, and a supplemental workforce?
We are interested in hearing from you on this or any other issue that you are facing. Please contact us.
- Main office: 306-546-2185