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N95 masks essential, BCGEU calls on government to take action - BCGEU

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in our province, our union has written to the B.C. Ministry of Health asking them to step up protections for members like you working on the front lines of the crisis. We have asked the ministry to take urgent action to direct employers to provide N95 masks and fit-tests for all workers in frontline care scenarios, including in the home support sector.

Read the letter here

In response to the virus' surge, public health officials at the provincial and regional levels are asking British Columbians to reduce their contacts and stay home to help break chains of transmission and bend our curve back down. BCGEU members in care roles can't do this – it's your job to be in close contact with colleagues, clients, and others as you continue your exemplary work to help our province through this crisis. For this work, care workers on the front lines deserve every protection possible and that's why we've called on government to act quickly to ensure this necessary protective equipment is provided by your employer.

An N95 mask provides a higher degree of protection than a standard medical mask because it can filter out both large and small particles when the user inhales. For members in home support, N95 masks are particularly important because you work outside the controlled environments of health care facilities in the community. Since masks are typically not worn inside the homes of clients – by the client themselves or those present in their household – and this leaves community health workers at unnecessary risk without N95 masks.

Statistics Canada survey on COVID-19
I also want to let you know about a short questionnaire on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on health care workers being conducted by Statistics Canada. (Click the following link to participate: The survey focuses on access to PPE and infection prevention and control (IPC) measures in the workplace. The information they collect will help to inform the delivery of health care services, and to better understand what health care workers need in terms of equipment, training and support. I encourage you to share your perspective before the deadline of December 13, 2020. More information on the survey can be found here.

We know how hard you are working and the toll this is taking. The last few weeks have been particularly challenging as we battle the second wave of the pandemic. As you continue to help British Columbians through this crisis, your safety at work is our top priority and we will keep you informed of government's response to our union's letter.

In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President