We are facing the fourth wave of COVID-19.
We know you are tired.
There is a health care staffing crisis. This crisis is the fault of the government, the Saskatchewan Health Authority, and affiliate employers. For years they have chosen to staff with a just-in-time philosophy. This was part of the ill-advised, expensive, and disastrous LEAN initiative.
Our jobs are often temporary, relief, or part-time. Workers need more stable employment. We have repeated this to the employers again and again. Baseline staffing is so lean that we are working short on every shift. To be clear, this is a crisis not caused simply by the pandemic but rather an existing crisis exacerbated by the pandemic.
Now COVID-19 case numbers are rising, hospitalization numbers are rising, and more testing and assessments are needed.
As you know, all five health care unions signed a temporary letter of understanding (LOU) in April 2020 that allowed staffing outside of the rules of our collective agreement. This included creating labour pools of workers whose service area was on a slowdown or closure. The workers in the labour pool could then be redeployed to areas where they were needed. The LOU also provided for long-term care cohorting, the use of the broadcast system to fill shifts, and the use of a supplemental workforce. This LOU expired on August 8th, 28 days after the lifting of the state of emergency (July 11, 2021).
We want you to know that the Saskatchewan Health Authority has asked us to meet to discuss a solution to the staffing crisis, at least as it applies to what they acknowledge as a crisis, which is COVID staffing – the specific work streams that relate to COVID-19. We know that they are already assessing service areas for possible slowdowns as that must be approved by the Ministry of Health. It is clear that they are looking for a similar solution as the temporary LOU. We believe that the discussions should be within the scope of the collective agreements – what is there that can assist with the staffing crisis. We are also advocating for more permanent solutions that will deal with the systemic shortages and not simply address the emergent issue. We are taking a position that there should be a real choice for workers, whenever possible, as we look for solutions. Finally, we are reminding the SHA of the shortfalls of the temporary LOU and their complete lack of interest in resolving those shortfalls and issues for workers. We will not accept that going forward.
We like hearing from you. If you have questions or concerns or just want to let us know how you are doing, please reach out. If you are doing COVID work and can share your experiences, let us know. If you were subject to the temporary LOU, and it was difficult, let us know.
- Main office: 306-546-2185