Info on Covid-19, click for more information
B.C.'S UNION SINCE 1919

COVID 19 Info for Health Service Members (HEABC and others)

Your union has been in communication with the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC) regarding sick leave policies and prevention. Through those discussions, the following guidelines are currently in place but subject to change:

  • Employees who don't have symptoms of an illness: come to work
  • Employees who are sick: sick leave applies
  • Returning to Canada from abroad: paid general leave is available, please contact your employer for details
  • Told by a qualified medical practitioner to self-isolate at home: paid general leave is available, please contact your employer for details
  • Awaiting medical direction or COVID-19 test results: paid general leave is available, please contact your employer for details

Read the latest bulletin (Mar 16)

Skip to:

  1. Resources
  2. News

Have a COVID-related question?

Email health@bcgeu.ca – Responses are confidential. To help us answer your question quickly, please tell us your employer and city of work.

COVID-19 resources & information for Health Service Members

From the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC):

Mar 23

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Read about changes to the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) protocol.

Mar 23

Putting on PPE

See step-by-step instructions on how to put on PPE.

Mar 23

Removing PPE

See step-by-step instructions on how to remove PPE without contamination.

Mar 25

Pregnancy

Pregnancy & PPE usage

Statement regarding COVID-19 and preganancy from the BC Ministry of Health

BCGEU COVID-19 Resources:

COVID-19 News for Health Service Members

April 02, 2020

Component 4 - Health Care Worker Update-BCGEU

To: All component 4 members


The last couple of weeks have been extraordinarily challenging times for all British Columbians, but especially for those working in health care.

You can be confident that your union is working on your behalf, and is here to support you during these unprecedented, turbulent times.

We hear your concerns, and we are advocating for what you have been calling for. Your union has written a letter to the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC) requesting fair pay and safe working conditions for our health care workers. Read the letter here. We want to ensure members are getting fairly compensated during this difficult time.

You may have heard that a wage supplement was recently implemented for nurses by mutual agreement between the HEABC and the Nurses' Bargaining Association (NBA). To set the record straight: NBA has a "working short" article that applies a premium to shifts that are deemed to be short staffed. This was bargained during the last round of negotiations, and the premium outlined only became effective April 1, 2020.

Our main message to HEABC is that a health care worker is a health care worker.
Paying this premium to all nurses, even those not entitled under their collective agreement,is not fair to the thousands of BCGEU health care workers who work beside them on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.

Your union understands how awful this is. We know there is more work to be done and a pandemic will always be challenging to get through for health care workers. We have made significant progress from the early days of the pandemic, and we ask you to continue to identify issues so we know what to fix.

Your union meets many times a week with employers at all levels of the health care sector to seek solutions to frontline issues and the systemic issues that can create frontline issues.

Although there is much work to be done, some successes so far include:

  • Your union has doubled the number of reps responding to occupational health and safety matters
  • Government ensures child care for health care workers at the front of the queue
  • Single site improvements to working conditions: FBA (Facilities Bargaining Association) wage rates, no loss of work hours, benefits maintained, employee preference on location to be considered according to seniority, a system to ensure fair staffing levels across the sector, no losses when workers return to former worksites
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE): significant improvements in access in many sites, improved consistency in standards across with province, detailed ethical framework for supply constraints

 
Please visit the health care page of our COVID-19 Information Hub regularly for updates: https://www.bcgeu.ca/covid_19_info_for_health_services.
 
Also be sure to email health@bcgeu.ca with any other concerns or specific questions.
 
Again, we appreciate your hard work throughout these difficult circumstances. As frontline workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic, your dedication and commitment are helping to keep our communities healthy and safe. We will continue to keep you updated as this situation unfolds.
 



UWU/MoveUP

April 02, 2020

Health Care Worker COVID-19 Update - Component 8 - BCGEU

To: All component 8 members

The last couple of weeks have been extraordinarily challenging times for all British Columbians, but especially for those working in health care.

You can be confident that your union is working on your behalf, and is here to support you during these unprecedented, turbulent times.

We hear your concerns, and we are advocating for what you have been calling for. The BCGEU and the Community Bargaining Association (CBA) constituent unions have called for additional compensation for CBA members and asked for a meeting with the Health Employers' Association of BC (HEABC). Read the letter here. We want to ensure members are getting fairly compensated during this difficult time.

You may have heard that a wage supplement was recently implemented for nurses by mutual agreement between the HEABC and the Nurses' Bargaining Association (NBA). To set the record straight: NBA has a "working short" article that applies a premium to shifts that are deemed to be short staffed. This was bargained during the last round of negotiations, and the premium outlined only became effective April 1, 2020.

Our main message to HEABC is that a health care worker is a health care worker. Paying this premium to all nurses, even those not entitled under their collective agreement, is not fair to the thousands of BCGEU health care workers who work beside them on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.

Your union understands how hard and awful this is. We know there is more work to be done and a pandemic will always be challenging to get through for health care workers. We have made significant progress from the early days of the pandemic, and we ask you to continue to identity identify issues so we know what to fix.

Your union meets many times a week with employers at all levels of the health care sector to seek solutions to frontline issues and the systemic issues that can create frontline issues.

Although there is much work to be done, some successes so far include:

  • Your union has doubled the number of reps responding to occupational health and safety matters. 
  • Government ensures child care for health care workers is at the front of the queue
  • Single site improvements to working conditions: FBA (Facilities Bargaining Association) wage rates, no loss of work hours, benefits maintained, employee preference on location to be considered according to seniority, a system to ensure fair staffing levels across the sector, no losses when workers return to former worksites
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE): significant improvements in access in many sites, improved consistency in standards across with province, detailed ethical framework for supply constraints

Please visit the health care page of our COVID-19 Information Hub regularly for updates: https://www.bcgeu.ca/covid_19_info_for_health_services.
 
Also be sure to email health@bcgeu.ca with any other concerns or specific questions. Again, we appreciate your hard work throughout these difficult circumstances. As frontline workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic, your dedication and commitment are helping to keep our communities healthy and safe. We will continue to keep you updated as this situation unfolds.
 



UWU/MoveUP

March 31, 2020

Component 8 - Correction: Health supports available through employer benefits...

COVID-19 correction: Health supports available through employer benefits – Mar 31
 
A recent email listing the Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) available to Lookout Housing and Health Society members was incorrect. The correct provider is Pacific Blue Cross delivered through Homewood Health.
 
To access your EFAP services, call:
1 844 PBC-EFAP (1 844 722-3327)
www.pbc-efap.ca
 
Again, as we continue to work together to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that whether you are working on the front lines or are in self-isolation at home, you may be experiencing mental and emotional strain. Your union encourages you to take advantage of this resource if necessary.
 
We sincerely apologize for any confusion regarding the incorrect information sent to you yesterday. Thank you again for your dedication in taking care of British Columbians.
 
If you have specific questions about COVID-19, please send your inquiries to health@bcgeu.ca. If you want to review current information from the BCGEU on COVID-19 please go to our information hub at www.bcgeu.ca/covid.
 
In solidarity,
Scott DeLong
Component 8 Vice-President



UWU/MoveUP

March 30, 2020

Component 4 - Health Supports Available Through Employer Benefits - BCGEU

COVID-19 update: Health supports available through employer benefits – Mar 30
 
As we continue to work together as a province to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that whether you are working on the front lines or are in self-isolation at home, you may be experiencing mental and emotional strain. Your union is working hard to support you when it comes to your rights as a union member, but we also encourage you to take advantage of the employee assistance program (EAP) or Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) that should be available to you through your employment benefits as well.
 
These programs generally offer off-site, confidential and voluntary counselling, consultation and online wellness services at no cost to you. Below is a list of these resources and other information by health authority:
 
Fraser Health
The Fraser Health[1] employee assistance program (EAP) provides professional, confidential support services and programs for Fraser Health employees.
Your EAP toll-free number is 1-844-880-9142 available 24/7, 7 days a week.
 
Interior Health
Access your Guide to Employee Health & Wellness Services here[2] or visit https://interiorhealth.lifespeak.com/welcome (password: wellness). You can also contact the Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP) Crisis Support Line[3] at 1-844-751-2133.
 
Northern Health
Through your employment benefits you have access to an Employee & Family Assistance Program.[4] This is an off-site, confidential, voluntary, short-term counseling program provided for employees to deal with a range of personal, family and workplace concerns. These services are provided to employees at no cost.
 
Vancouver Coastal Health
The Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP)[5] provides cutting edge and confidential Counselling, Critical Incident and Wellness Services to healthcare employees and their immediate families. At this time, some calls to EFAP may not be getting through due to overwhelmed phone circuits. Please use the online request form.[6]
 
Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA)
Your Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP),[7] Homewood Health, is there to provide support as we navigate the personal and collective impacts of this pandemic. Mental and emotional support is critical at this point in time, especially with increasing numbers of our community members in self-isolation. Homewood's services can be accessed by calling 1-800-663-1142 or online at https://homeweb.ca/
 
Psychological safety advisors who are part of the Occupational Health & Safety Team are available to provide check-ins with staff who are self-isolating. While they are not counsellors or psychologists, they can provide information and referral services as well as support connecting with resources that may be of benefit while dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 and self-isolation. Check-ins will be provided at the request of the employee – email: pathogen@viha.ca
 
Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA)
Any PHSA employee (full-time, part-time or casual) or dependent family member can access the Employee & Family Assistance Program[8] (EFAP) services and resources from Homewood Health free of charge, with all services completely private and confidential. Homewood's services can be accessed by calling 1-800-663-1142 or online at https://homeweb.ca/
 
Take care of yourselves and thank you so much for your dedication in taking care of British Columbians. It’s because of you that we will get through this together.
 
If you have specific questions about COVID-19, please send your inquiries to health@bcgeu.ca. If you want to review current information from the BCGEU on COVID-19 please go to our information hub at www.bcgeu.ca/covid.
 
In solidarity,
Mahen Ramdharry
Component 4 Vice-President



UWU/MoveUP

March 30, 2020

Component 8 - Health Supports Available Through Employer Benefits - BCGEU

COVID-19 update: Health supports available through employer benefits – Mar 30
 
As we continue to work together as a province to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that whether you are working on the front lines or are in self-isolation at home, you may be experiencing mental and emotional strain. Your union is working hard to support you when it comes to your rights as a union member, but we also encourage you to take advantage of the employee assistance program (EAP) or Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) that should be available to you through your employment benefits as well.
 
These programs generally offer off-site, confidential and voluntary counselling, consultation and online wellness services at no cost to you. Below is a list of these resources and other information by health authority:
 
Fraser Health
The Fraser Health[1] employee assistance program (EAP) provides professional, confidential support services and programs for Fraser Health employees.
Your EAP toll-free number is 1-844-880-9142 available 24/7, 7 days a week.
 
Interior Health
Access your Guide to Employee Health & Wellness Services here[2] or visit https://interiorhealth.lifespeak.com/welcome (password: wellness). You can also contact the Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP) Crisis Support Line[3] at 1-844-751-2133.
 
Northern Health
Through your employment benefits you have access to an Employee & Family Assistance Program.[4] This is an off-site, confidential, voluntary, short-term counseling program provided for employees to deal with a range of personal, family and workplace concerns. These services are provided to employees at no cost.
 
Vancouver Coastal Health
The Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP)[5] provides cutting edge and confidential Counselling, Critical Incident and Wellness Services to healthcare employees and their immediate families. At this time, some calls to EFAP may not be getting through due to overwhelmed phone circuits. Please use the online request form.[6]
 
Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA)
Your Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP),[7] Homewood Health, is there to provide support as we navigate the personal and collective impacts of this pandemic. Mental and emotional support is critical at this point in time, especially with increasing numbers of our community members in self-isolation. Homewood's services can be accessed by calling 1-800-663-1142 or online at https://homeweb.ca/
 
Psychological safety advisors who are part of the Occupational Health & Safety Team are available to provide check-ins with staff who are self-isolating. While they are not counsellors or psychologists, they can provide information and referral services as well as support connecting with resources that may be of benefit while dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 and self-isolation. Check-ins will be provided at the request of the employee – email: pathogen@viha.ca
 
Lookout Housing and Health Society
Please visit LifeWorks[8] to access your employee assistance and wellness programs or call 1-877-207-8833.
 
RainCity Housing and Support Society
Please visit LifeWorks[9] to access your employee assistance and wellness programs or call 1-877-207-8833.
 
Take care of yourselves and thank you so much for your dedication in taking care of British Columbians. It’s because of you that we will get through this together.
 
If you have specific questions about COVID-19, please send your inquiries to health@bcgeu.ca. If you want to review current information from the BCGEU on COVID-19 please go to our information hub at www.bcgeu.ca/covid.
 
In solidarity,
Scott DeLong
Component 8 Vice-President


UWU/MoveUP

March 30, 2020

ACT NOW - Pick your preferred worksite- members working in Long Term Care, As...

The Provincial Health Officer has ordered that movement between worksites by health care workers must be limited to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the current pandemic. The Provincial Health Office has the right to assign employees to worksites, and worksite preference will be considered, but not guaranteed. You will need to register if:

  • You work in any of Long Term Care, Assisted Living, Provincial Mental Health Facility (e.g.Forensic) or Acute Care; AND
  • You work in more than one worksite in any of the above settings; AND
  • You want to indicate a preference for the worksite you will be assigned to.

The Provincial Health Officer has set a DEADLINE OF 5:00 pm, SUNDAY MARCH 29 for health care workers to register their worksite preference on an online staffing registry at www.bchealthstaffing.ca 

In order to accomplish the important task of ensuring that the limited staff resource is provided equally to all facilities in order to best respond to the public health crisis that is COVID-19, a centralized staffing registry is being built in the Provincial Health Office.

If you only work at one worksite, you do not need to do anything at this time. You will continue to work at your current worksite.
 
Thank you for your incredible efforts to continue to provide vital health care services in the midst of this public health crisis.

If you have specific questions about COVID-19, please send your inquiries to health@bcgeu.ca If you want to review current information from the BCGEU on COVID-19 please go to our information hub at www.bcgeu.ca/covid.



UWU/MoveUP

March 30, 2020

COVID-19 Update: Single Site Staffing - BCGEU

The Provincial Health Officer has ordered that movement between worksites by health care workers in some health care settings must be limited to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the current pandemic.

This order only affects you if you work in any of these four health care settings:

  • Long Term Care
  • Assisted Living
  • Provincial Mental Health Facilities
  • Acute Care
  • If you work in one of the above health care settings in addition to Community Health, you'll be contacted by another BCGEU email and your employer about what to do.
     
    There is no restriction on working in Community Health, even if you work in one of the affected health care settings listed above.
     
    Thank you for your incredible efforts to continue to provide vital health care services in the midst of this public health crisis.

    If you have specific questions about COVID-19, please send your inquiries to health@bcgeu.ca If you want to review current information from the BCGEU on COVID-19 please go to our information hub at www.bcgeu.ca/covid.



    UWU/MoveUP

    March 26, 2020

    Component 8 – Home support health and safety - BCGEU

    COVID-19 Update: Home support health and safety – Mar 26


    The past few days have been challenging for us all, and we have heard from you that the COVID-19 outbreak is causing significant fear and anxiety. We want to start by acknowledging the important work you do to ensure your clients are safe and healthy. You are on the frontlines of this crisis, and it is critical that your health and safety is protected too.
     
    We are in close communication with the health authorities to share your concerns and ensure that you have the information and equipment you need to work safely. Here are some key reminders and additional information for you:
     
    When caring for your clients, always follow the safe work procedures your employer has provided you. If you have any questions or concerns, stop and tell your supervisor immediately.
     
    Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) as required.
    If your client or family members are suspected or have tested positive for COVID-19, and are being isolated in their home, a higher level of caution and an up-to-date assessment of the risk to your health and safety is required. Patients that are suspected or positive for COVID should be managed with contact and droplet precautions, which includes putting on a gown, surgical/procedure mask, eye protection and gloves. Here is a more detailed explanation of the PPE requirements.
     
    Your employer must provide you with the PPE that you need, and training on how to use it.
     
    If you are not clear about the safe procedure for caring for your client and/or you do not have the PPE you need, stop and tell your supervisor immediately.
     
    Encourage and support clients to practice hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene as much as possible. Regular handwashing and respiratory hygiene should be encouraged for all patients, and especially for patients who have signs and symptoms of an acute respiratory infection. Respiratory hygiene includes:

    • Using tissues to cover the mouth and nose during coughing or sneezing, with prompt disposal into a waste receptacle;
    • Covering the mouth and nose during coughing or sneezing against a sleeve/shoulder if a tissue is not available; and
    • Wearing a mask when coughing or sneezing.

    Tell your supervisor immediately if your client or other family members in the home show symptoms of COVID-19. If your client or other family members in the home have symptoms like coughing, sneezing, fever, sore throat and/or difficulty breathing, notify your supervisor before entering the home. If you have already entered the home, ensure your client is safe, then go outside and notify your supervisor immediately.

    The employer must assess if it is safe for you to enter the home. Has the employer provided you with training and safe work procedures to deal with a possible COVID-19 case? Has the employer provided you with the proper personal protective equipment (PPE)? Have you received training on how to don/doff PPE? Has the employer given you direction on how to dispose of contaminated materials? Your employer must answer these questions BEFORE you do the work.

    What if my supervisor tells me to go ahead, but I still feel unsafe?

    If you feel your health and safety is at risk, you must refuse unsafe work. This may be the case if you are not provided with the proper PPE, and/or you have not received safe written work procedures, clear instruction or adequate supervision to carry out the work safely.

    The first step is to tell your supervisor that you are refusing unsafe work. Then, your supervisor must investigate, and either fix the problem, or explain to you why they believe the work is safe. Inform your union steward or Occupational Health and Safety representative when you refuse unsafe work, so they can help you go through the proper steps.

    Your right to refuse unsafe work is the law in British Columbia. To learn more about the refusal of unsafe work process, click here: https://www.bcgeu.ca/your_right_to_refuse_unsafe_work

    Wash your hands often with soap and water – using hand sanitizer is not a substitute for regular handwashing.
    Dr. Bonnie Henry, the Provincial Health Officer, has stressed that the best way we can protect ourselves from COVID-19 infection is to wash our hands properly (20 seconds with soap and water).

    Physically distance yourself from others as much as possible. Where possible, physically distance yourself from others by 2 metres or 6 feet. Physically distancing yourself is impossible when you care for your clients, so this is why it is critical you always follow the safe work procedures at your workplace.

    If you feel ill, stay home, and tell your supervisor immediately. Here is a self-assessment tool that can help you determine if you may have the Covid-19 virus:  https://bc.thrive.health/.

    We applaud you for your compassion, dedication and courage during this unprecedented crisis.  We are here to support you and to help protect your health and safety.  If you have any questions or concerns, contact us at health@bcgeu.ca

    More helpful resources can be found here:

    BCGEU Covid-19 hub https://www.bcgeu.ca/covid

    BC Government COVID-19 Support App https://bc.thrive.health/covid19app/home, or download from the App Store or Google Play

    BC Centre for Disease Control  http://covid-19.bccdc.ca/

    Worksafe BC Covid-19 updates https://www.worksafebc.com/en/about-us/covid-19-updates

    Public Health Agency of Canada Corona Virus https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html

    UWU/MoveUP

    March 25, 2020

    COVID-19 FAQ - BCGEU