A video update from Mark - Stay safe and stay strong March 27, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: With respect to collective agreement Article 15.13 under Influenza/Quarantine: In the event my department is deemed non-essential, and we are told to go home, does this mean that we would continue to be paid as per our regular weekly hours? +
Article 15.13 under Influenza/Quarantine
Any time lost as a result of:
- immunization required by the Medical Health Officer in accordance with the Saskatchewan Immunization Manual or the Canadian Immunization Guide; or
- quarantine as determined by the Medical Health Officer; or
- being prohibited from working by the Employer as a result of exposure to an infectious disease as a result of her employment;
shall not result in loss of pay or reduction of the Employee's sick leave credits.
A: Every effort is being made to maintain current employment levels. The employer has an obligation to employees around maintaining their employment – hours of work and income – unless there is a layoff situation. We have not heard that there is any intent to lay off health care workers. However, the temporary reduction of services does not trigger Article 15.13 of the collective agreement.
Q: Can I refuse work if I feel it is unsafe? +
A: Right to Refuse
Under The Saskatchewan Employment Act (SEA) 3-31, You have the right to refuse to do any specific job or task which you have reasonable grounds to believe is unusually dangerous. The danger may be to you or to any other person. An unusual danger could include:
- A danger that is not normal for the job;
- A danger that would normally stop work; or
- A situation for which you are not properly trained, equipped, or experienced to do the work assigned.
SEA 3-31 applies only to health and safety issues. It is an individual decision that has to be based on a personal belief that the work is unusually dangerous. During a refusal, the refusing worker is protected from discriminatory action, as defined in SEA 3-1(1)(i) and described in SEA 35.
The refusal may continue until either the worker is satisfied the job is no longer unusually dangerous or an occupational health officer has ruled against the refusal. During the refusal, the refusing worker must remain at the workplace unless the employer advises otherwise.
You cannot be fired or disciplined for using this right. Occupational health and safety provides procedures to be followed when refusing.
Steps for Refusing Unusually Dangerous Work
If your supervisor/employer asks you to perform a specific job or task that you have grounds to believe is unusually dangerous, follow these steps:
- Tell your employer/supervisor that you are refusing work because of a health or safety concern.
- Do not leave the worksite without your employer's permission.
- Contact your occupational health committee (OHC) or occupational health and safety representative if you cannot resolve the concern with the employer/supervisor.
- Your OHC will investigate the refusal, meet, and vote to determine if you have reasonable grounds to refuse the work. (The vote must be unanimous for or against the refusal.)
- If the concern cannot be resolved within your workplace, contact an occupational health officer at the occupational health and safety division.
- The officer will investigate the refusal and rule on the matter.
Your department and/or facility should have the procedures for refusing unusually dangerous work available for your information. If not ask your supervisor, occupational health committee, occupational health and safety representative, and/or union steward for this information.
Q: I need childcare to go to work; what do I do? +
Answer: This is a frequently asked question by many of our members. The Ministry of Health, in conjunction with Ministry of Education, is providing the following. You can find this information here.
Beginning March 20, 2020, childcare centres co-located in schools will close to parents currently using the service who are not directly associated with the pandemic response. However, the government will support these centres to remain operational and open spaces exclusively to workers who are associated with the pandemic responses who need childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic. These childcare services are for these particular workers who do not have other childcare options available to them.
The following is a list of health care providers who have access to this service:
- Employees directly related to providing essential services in health care, including employees working in hospitals, long-term care facilities, community and primary health, home care, personal care homes, labs, pharmacies, COVID-19 assessment and testing sites, scheduling departments, and payroll departments including nurses, physicians and physician clinic staff, emergency medical services staff, and other staff essential to the operations of these facilities/departments.
You can view the list of centres which are providing childcare here.
You can access these childcare spaces by filling out the following application form.
If you have questions for the Ministry of Education as you fill out your application form, or if you have questions about the services provided, please call the number for the area closest to you.
- Saskatoon (Central and Northern Region): 306-933-6071
- Regina (Southern Region): 306-787-4980
Q: I work at more than one SHA facility. Is this a concern, and will I be asked to choose one workplace? +
A: The information we have as of March 27th is this: Provincial outbreak protocols recommend the cohort of staff during outbreak as much as possible to minimize interfacility spread. No formal actions or directions have been given to minimize or restrict the movement of staff between SHA care facilities or between the SHA and any external group or organizations as part of the COVID-19 response.
Q: Programs are being temporarily suspended or my area is temporarily closing, and I am being redeployed to another area. Is this okay? +
A: A state of emergency was declared on March 18, 2020 due to the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic. The Saskatchewan Health Authority is reducing non-urgent services in an effort to minimize and contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
We have reached out to the employer around the movement of staff. We want to be able to work with them and have shared some principles we think should guide this process. We know this is an ever-evolving situation, and we don’t always know what is happening at all the facilities/programs. If you are being redeployed and you don’t think the union knows, please contact your regional office to let them know.
We believe that there will have to be temporary movement of staff to ensure necessary care and service. We also believe that this should be done respecting the collective agreement. Let us know if there are any concerns.
Q: Do I have a right to know about the dangers or risks in my workplace? +
A: Workers have a right to know about all hazards present in their workplace and how those hazards may hurt them. Employers are required to provide the information, training, and supervision a worker needs to avoid being hurt by hazards in the workplace. Training and information about hazards should be provided before a worker is exposed so they know how to protect themselves. Despite what many employers claim, there is no law that supersedes a worker’s right to know about hazards in the workplace.
Q: Where can I find more information? +
A: We are in continued communication with the employer and strive to provide you with everything we know, but the situation changes daily, often hourly. The employer has committed to put everything on the Saskatchewan.ca website. The part of the site specific to health care workers, including PPE protocols, childcare for health care workers, infection and prevention protocols, as well as information for pharmacists and physicians can be accessed here.
Q: I can’t take my vacation as international travel is not recommended. Can I cancel my vacation? +
A: Managers may approve the cancellation of vacation on a case by case basis. What we have seen is that in most cases the managers are approving vacation cancellation.
Q: Will I be recalled from my approved vacation? +
A: Key considerations for managers if callback from vacation is required, include but may not be limited to:
- What is the nature of the work and which employee(s) is needed to perform such work?
- Have all efforts been exhausted internally to identify alternate staffing, and it can be demonstrated this is a last resort? (E.g. casual/relief, part-time, temporary staff, and overtime have been considered prior to cancelling vacation or TIL.)
- Are there any employees who have volunteered to reschedule their vacation?
- Cancel those employees whose duration of leave will be least impacted.
- Depending on the length of vacation time planned, in discussions with the employee, is it possible to cancel only a portion of the time off? Would this be an appropriate option as opposed to cancelling the entire vacation period?
Q – What information is the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) relying on to make decisions about the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in its facilities? +
A – The SHA is relying on information from Health Canada guidelines for health care professionals. You can read their recommendations You can read their recommendations directly here.
Q – What is the recommended PPE for continuing care? +
A – The SHA has developed a document entitled SUMMARY OF PPE RECOMMENDATIONS for Residents suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 in Continuing Care.
“This guidance is intended to inform minimum expectations for PPE. HCWs should also perform a PCRA for patient encounter. For every patient and/or patient environment encounter, always apply the Four Moments for Hand Hygiene.”
Q – What is the recommended PPE for acute care? +
A – The SHA has developed a document entitled SUMMARY OF PPE RECOMMENDATIONS for Patients Suspected or Confirmed to have COVID-19 in Acute Care.
Q – What is the recommended PPE for primary care and home care settings? +
A – The SHA has developed a document entitled SUMMARY OF PPE RECOMMENDATIONS for Patients Suspected or Confirmed to have COVID-19 in Primary Care.
Q – Is there a proper way for donning and doffing PPE? +
A -It is important to follow the proper guidelines for wearing PPE. Here is a handy checklist we recommend you use.
Q - What can I do if my employer is not doing enough to keep me safe from COVIC-19? +
A - Read about this within: COVID-19 Health & Safety Circular #1 - April 7, 2020