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Community Health general COVID-19 update – April 7, 2020

Component 8 - COVID-19 Update


This is an update for BCGEU members working in Community Health related to COVID-19. This is a difficult time for healthcare workers around the province and we wanted to take this opportunity to update members on what we have been doing on your behalf and clarify some common questions members have been raising.
 
BCGEU call for pandemic premium pay
We became aware last week that employees covered under the Nurses Bargaining Association (NBA) agreement were granted a blanket premium for all hours worked during the month of April. We acknowledge that the premium exists in their collective agreement for working in short staffing situations, however, the blanket approach leaves other frontline healthcare workers feeling undervalued.
 
The BCGEU, along with the other unions representing employees covered by the Community Bargaining Association (CBA) called on HEABC to consider premiums for the thousands of other front line healthcare workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and a meeting to discuss this important issue. You can see our letter to HEABC here. 
 
Non-clinical PPE
Although we have thousands of members that work in clinical environments with defined Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) guidelines, we have thousands that work in non-clinical environments such as shelters, SRO’s, addictions facilities, and on the streets of the community.
 
Our advice to members in those environments is that if you are unable to maintain two meters of physical distance with co-workers, clients, or members of the community while performing your duties you should be wearing a medical mask and eye protection. This includes when your duties may require you to directly administer medication such as Naloxone or provide first aid.

If you are required to directly administer medication or first aid to a person who has been diagnosed – or symptomatic – with COVID-19, PPE requirements should increase to a medical mask, eyewear, gloves, and gown.
 
Your union has been in regular contact with WorkSafeBC in relation to COVID-19 issues and your employer is still obligated to meet their core Workers Compensation Act and their Occupational Health & Safety responsibilities during this outbreak.

If proper PPE is not available, is being denied to you, or if you have specific questions about COVID-19, please direct your inquiries to your union representative (your Joint Health and Safety Committee member or a steward). If you cannot reach one of these union representatives, please email [email protected].

Single site
We anticipate an order from either the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) or individual health authorities via the Chief Medical Health Officer (CMHO) restricting work to a single site. Our understanding is that this order will not apply to community health or your worksites. Instead it impacts only long-term care (LTC) facilities and assisted living (AL) facilities which are largely facilities for seniors.
 
This means that if a co-worker or employer in community health says that you are restricted to working at one community health worksite/program they are misinformed. The only impact on workers covered under the CBA is if they have other employment in any (union or otherwise) LTC or AL. However, you are still able to work in community health, just not more than one LTC or AL.
 
If the outbreak becomes worse it is possible for the PHO or the CHMO to make such an order but we do not anticipate that happening at this time.
 
Redeployment
There is a potential redeployment of workers, particularly Community Health Workers (CHWs) involved in home support, to other parts of the health authority to assist other health care workers curing the COVID-19 outbreak. At this time, it is unlikely employees from other bargaining units would be redeployed into community health.
 
Although we do not have details at this time, we will assert that any such transfer (outside of an order from the PHO or CHMO which we have no jurisdiction over) be consistent with the following principles:

  • The transfers are voluntary and by seniority.
     
  • Employees should be paid the rate of pay under the agreement of the facility/worksite they are performing duties at if it is higher than their current wage rate.
     
  • All hours worked and earned benefits should return with you so that no employee lose seniority, vacation, sick leave, pensionable earnings, etc.
     
  • Those that do redeploy are guaranteed regular hours equal to or in excess of their current position or some other confirmed amount of minimum hours.
     

These terms are subject to discussions between the CBA, HEABC and the other healthcare bargaining associations. We will update you when we have more certainty.
 
Timeline waiver
The CBA (including the BCGEU) has agreed to temporarily suspend timelines regarding grievances. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak there was general agreement that employers are currently unable to effectively meet timelines related to grievances and employees should not be adversely impacted by the crisis in terms of grievances and protecting/defending their agreement rights.
 
Therefore, the unions and employers agreed to temporarily (currently until April 30, 2020) suspend grievance and classification review timelines and all new grievances shall be filed directly at Step 2. Community Health Workers should still be submitting a filled out hours of investigation form with grievances filed directly at Step 2.
 
We are proud of you!
The officers and staff of the BCGEU are incredibly proud of the work you are doing in our communities during this pandemic. You continue to provide services to those most vulnerable in society and to the COVID-19 virus.
 
Know that we continue to work each day to represent you during this historic time and your efforts are inspiring!

In solidarity,
 
Scott De Long
BCGEU VP for Component 8 – Community Health Services



 


Process for refusing unsafe work – COVID-19 update

To: BCIT Support Staff
Re: Process for refusing unsafe work – COVID-19 update

As our province continues to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, your bargaining chair has been in daily discussions with your employer to deal with issues that have arisen as a result.

We are in uncharted territory, but your union is committed to keeping your worksites as safe as possible while areas of BCIT remain open.

If you feel that the work you are performing is unsafe, you or any other member can exercise your right to refuse unsafe work using the following process:

       Step 1: Inform your immediate supervisor or employer you are refusing unsafe
       work as per Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) regulation 3.12. The employer
       must investigate your concerns and make it safe for you. If the employer
       disagrees with your belief that the work is unsafe, go to step 2.

      Step 2: The employer must include a union rep or OH&S rep to investigate your
      concerns. If no rep or OH&S person available, then the worker gets to choose
      another worker to assess the situation. If the worker still believes the work is
      unsafe, go to step 3.

      Step 3: The worker and employer together call WCB to inform them of
      a refusal of unsafe work. WCB is expected to investigate without undue delay and
      assess and make their determination. In the meantime, the employer can assign
      you to a different task while the investigation in ongoing. Only when WCB says it is
      safe to resume the refused work should you carry out the work. 

If you are unsure if you should be refusing unsafe work, contact your designated steward with specific locations and concerns so that they can advise you on your next steps.

Below is a list of stewards and the department(s) which they will be representing during the pandemic. Ensure that you inform the steward assigned to your area of any refusals to provide you with assistance and a witness, or contact the OH&S Officer in your area for support during the process.


Steward:          Contact Information:        Departments: 


UWU/MoveUP



More information on the process can be found here: http://ohs-bcgeu.nationbuilder.com/your-rights




  





PHO Social Services Sector COVID-19 new BCCDC guidelines

PHO Social Services Sector COVID-19 new BCCDC guidelines
 
The BC Centre for Disease Control has released social service sector guidelines for preventing and controlling transmission of COVID-19 available here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/covid-19/covid-19-pho-guidance-social-service-providers.pdf
 
We are presently reviewing this directive but wanted to ensure you had the most up-to-date information from the BCCDC and the Ministry of Health.
 
If you have specific questions about COVID-19, please direct your inquiries to your union representative (your Joint Health and Safety Committee member or a steward). If you cannot reach one of these union representatives, please email [email protected].
 
For current information on COVID-19 for Community Social Services members, visit https://www.bcgeu.ca/covid_19_information_for_community_social_services_members. For general information from the BCGEU on COVID-19 please go to our information hub at www.bcgeu.ca/covid or email [email protected].



UWU/MoveUP

Online employee wellness resource – COVID-19 update, Component 7

To assist school districts in making resources available to employees, the BC Public School Employers' Association (BCPSEA) has negotiated a limited time partnership with LifeSpeak on Demand (LifeSpeak). LifeSpeak is an online library of streaming and downloadable video training modules with renowned experts speaking on a range of health, family, wellness, and professional development topics.

Through to the end of August 2020, this partnership provides all 60 public school districts with FULL ACCESS to the online services and supports offered by LifeSpeak at no cost.

LifeSpeak can be accessed at https://bcpsea.lifespeak.com; Client password: lifespeak 

The BC Centre for Disease Control has also published this useful guide for social service providers on the prevention and control of COVID-19: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/covid-19/covid-19-pho-guidance-social-service-providers.pdf

If you have specific questions about COVID-19, please send your inquiries to [email protected]. 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,
Cindy Battersby
Component 7 Vice-President



UWU/MoveUP


COMMUNITY SOCIAL SERVICES Communication on COVID-19 Health and Safety Obligations

COMMUNITY SOCIAL SERVICES Communication on COVID-19 Health and Safety Obligations

We know our members have a lot of health and safety-related questions about what is happening in their workplaces during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below, we have put together responses to some common questions, that are specific to the work you do in this sector. 

If you have specific questions about COVID-19 and its impacts in your workplace that are not answered here, please direct your inquiries to your union representative (either your Joint Safety and Health Committee member or your steward).  If you cannot reach either of these union representatives, email [email protected].

It is important to emphasize that the information and recommendations about COVID 19 in BC are changing rapidly, and some information could become out-of-date quickly. Please keep this in mind and refer to official sources like the BC Centre for Disease Control ("BCCDC") for the most current advice.

Below are answers to the following questions: 

What should my employer be doing to protect my health and safety?
What if my supervisor or a co-worker is ill and still at work?
What if I am at work and my client appears to be sick?
What are my employer's obligations when there is a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case at the worksite?  
What should our Joint Safety and Health Committee be doing during this crisis?
Do I, as a worker, also have some health and safety obligations?
Do I need to wear a mask at work?
What if I have an underlying health condition that makes me more vulnerable to complications arising from exposure to COVID-19?
What if I feel the work I am expected to perform is unsafe?
Due to the nature of my work, I cannot maintain physical/social distancing and I haven't been issued PPE (personal protective equipment) like gloves, masks and gowns. What should I do?
What if I am concerned about my or other's mental health? 
 
What should my employer be doing to protect my health and safety?

During this pandemic, employers must take all reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of workers - it is not "business as usual". Employers should be identifying and assessing the risk of exposure to the coronavirus in your workplace and implementing preventive measures to eliminate or reduce the risk of exposure.  

WorkSafeBC has developed some guidance for employers which is available here: https://www.worksafebc.com/en/about-us/covid-19-updates/health-and-safety/what-employersshould-do.  

Key actions employers should take are to:  

  • Curtail non-essential work and have workers work remotely where possible.
  • Ensure workers do not come to work if:  
     o They have COVID‐19-like symptoms (sore throat, fever, sneezing, coughing and/or difficulty breathing); these workers should be told to self-isolate at home for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms
    o They have travelled internationally (these workers must self-isolate for 14 days)
    o They share a residence with a person who has been exposed to COVID-19
  • Put physical/social distancing measures in place, including by:
    o Reconfiguring the workplace to maintain distance between workers (2 meters)
    o Limiting access to worksites
    o Limiting worker participation in in-person gatherings 
    o Limiting worker travel
  • Put physical/social distancing measures in place wherever possible when supporting clients  
  • Educate workers on health and safety measures to prevent transmission of infectious disease
  • Increase workplace cleaning, provide the necessary supplies and training, reinforce personal hygiene (washing hands, coughing/sneezing etiquette, etc.) to workers. 

Here is a helpful link that relates to child care educators and providers:"

Other sources of information:

What if my supervisor or a co-worker is ill and still at work?  
If you witness a co-worker or employer representative at work with symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19, you should report it to your supervisor or manager. Symptoms include sore throat, fever, sneezing, coughing and/or difficulty breathing. A summary of symptoms is available from the BC Centre for Disease Control: https://bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/about-covid19/symptoms.

You have the right to be directed to work a safe distance apart from that individual. Workers always have the right to refuse unsafe work as per Section 3.12 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (see below), but the employer can assign you to other work that is safe as a response to a work refusal.  

Whether or not the illness has been confirmed as COVID-19, your union expects employers to ensure that workers who are ill do not come to work, and that clients that are ill remain home (if they are not in residential care of some kind). WorkSafeBC provides information directing employers to do this here: https://www.worksafebc.com/en/about-us/covid-19-updates/what-employers-should-do  

What if I am at work and my client appears to be sick? 

Stop and tell your supervisor immediately if your client and/or other individuals in the home (this could be in a private residence, group home or long-term care facility) show symptoms of COVID-19. These symptoms include sore throat, fever, sneezing, coughing and/or difficulty breathing. 

If you are not clear about the safe procedure for caring for your client and/or you do not have the personal protective equipment (PPE) you believe you need, stop and tell your supervisor immediately.  

The employer must assess if it is safe for you to enter the home or to continue providing care for your client. Has the employer provided you with training and safe work procedures to deal with a person with COVID-19? Has the employer provided you with the proper personal protective equipment (PPE)? Have you received training on how to take your PPE on and off? 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 are my employer's obligations when there is a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case at the worksite?
 
Employers should be prepared to respond if someone at work becomes ill. Your union expects that employers will:  

Ensure the health and safety of workers providing care or services to people with COVID-19 (probable or confirmed). Some COMMUNITY SOCIAL SERVICES workers may be providing care or services to people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Overall, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure workers are properly informed, trained, equipped and supervised when working in settings where there is a risk of exposure to COVID-19. Your union expects that the employer will provide timely, specific and clear direction to workers on the infection control protocols they will follow to avoid exposure to the virus. We expect the employer to ensure there is sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on hand for workers and that they provide the training to use it. 

Otherwise ensure workers or clients (where possible) with confirmed COVID-19 or COVID-19 symptoms, or others required to self-isolate are not allowed in the workplace. The current advice from public health authorities is that anyone with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should self-isolate for 10 days.  If you client is in a group home or care facility, the employer must have protocols in place to ensure isolation of that person, in addition to protection for you. 

Inform workers and/or clients who may have been exposed as soon as possible. In so doing, employers should take reasonable measures, to the extent possible, to protect the identity of any employee that is ill or has contracted COVID-19.  

Public health authorities currently recommend that anyone who has provided care or had close contact with a person with COVID-19 (probable or confirmed) while they were ill or had symptoms (cough, fever, sneezing, sore throat, or difficulty breathing) should self-isolate for 14 days. Close contact is defined as living in the same household, having sexual contact, and/or providing care without appropriate PPE.  

Advise workers on what to do next. Employers should advise workers who have been exposed to anyone confirmed to have COVID-19, or to anyone with possible symptoms of COVID-19, to call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 for an assessment and to determine any necessary next steps. Workers can also use the selfassessment tool to quickly assess whether they will be required to self-isolate. (https://bc.thrive.health/

Contact public health authorities for advice and assistance. Although employers are not obligated to report a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 to federal or provincial health authorities (this is the responsibility of medical professionals), if an employee in the workplace is diagnosed, employers should contact public health authorities to receive advice and assistance in identifying contacts that the infected employee had in the workplace. 

Take steps to prevent additional exposure. Employers should ensure prompt and corrective action is taken to eliminate or mitigate conditions or activities that could result in ongoing workplace exposure to the virus. Incident investigations should be conducted as needed in order to identify ways to prevent exposure(s) from occurring again in the future. This requires the involvement of Joint Safety and Health Committee members or worker representatives. Strategies may include conducting additional cleaning, readjusting activities in the workplace to ensure physical/social distancing is maintained, and/or implementing other safe work procedures to better protect workers.  
 
Ask workers limited questions about their health. Your employer may ask you limited questions about your health in the context of this pandemic.  This would include questions such as whether you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to individuals with those symptoms. 

Notify WorkSafeBC if the infection occurred at the workplace. If a worker becomes ill and the infection occurred at the workplace or in the course of employment, WorkSafeBC must be notified. Employers should submit claims online or by submitting a Form 7 (Employer's Report of Injury or Occupational Disease). Directions for employers are available here: https://www.worksafebc.com/en/claims/reportworkplace-injury-illness/how-employers-report-workplace-injury-illness.  

Workers that believe they were infected at work should make a claim by phoning 1-888-WORKERS (1-888967-5377), or by submitting a Form 6 (Application for Compensation and Report of Injury or Occupational Disease). Instructions for workers are found here: https://www.worksafebc.com/en/claims/reportworkplace-injury-illness/how-workers-report-workplace-injury-illness

Keep a record of employees that have been exposed at work. Employers are required by the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (section 6.34(h)) to keep a record of employees that have been exposed to a hazardous biological agent at work, which would include exposure to COVID-19.  

**Note that these expectations are supported by requirements under OHS legislation and regulations. The Workers' Compensation Act and OHS Regulation can be accessed and searched here: https://www.worksafebc.com/en/law-policy/occupational-health-safety/searchable-ohs-regulation.  

What should our Joint Safety and Health Committee be doing during this crisis? 

In accordance with the Workers' Compensation Act, all BCGEU collective agreements require the establishment of joint occupational health and safety committees. These committees are required to meet at least monthly or, to deal with urgent situations, at the call of either party. Those meetings should continue to occur on this basis and where matters cannot be resolved at the committee level, union appointees should contact their union representatives for support at [email protected].  If your employer is agreeable, more frequent meetings could be held to discuss the many issues that are arising in your workplaces as a result of COVID-19.

Do I, as a worker, also have some health and safety obligations? 

Section 116 of the Workers' Compensation Act (General Duties of Workers) requires workers to follow safe work procedures, and to take reasonable care to protect their own health and safety, and the health and safety of others. Workers are also required to report any hazards to their supervisor. In the context of this pandemic, this means that:  

  • Workers need to inform their employer if they are having symptoms consistent with COVID-19;
  • Workers need to comply with workplace policies and procedures;
  • Workers should comply with directions from public health officials;  
  • Workers should tell their supervisor if they are aware of others in the workplace exhibiting symptoms; and  
  • Worker should tell their supervisor if they have been exposed to a communicable disease (COVID-19) outside of the workplace.

Do I need to wear a mask at work?  
In general, masks are not required to be worn where COVID-19 is not suspected or confirmed. Most of our community social services workers will not generally require a mask at work, but there are exceptions. The BC Centre for Disease Control provides advice about wearing masks here: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/common-questions.  

Masks should be used by sick people to prevent transmission to other people. A mask will help keep a person's droplets in. We recognize that many of the clients you serve cannot or will not wear a mask because of underlying mental or physical challenges. You employer must assess the risk these clients may pose to workers, and provide you with appropriate safe work procedures and PPE.   

Healthcare workers, including some of our community social services paraprofessionals, individuals working in long-term care and assisted living facilities, those providing direct care to clients (dressing, feeding, toileting, bathing, administering medication)and some others will be required to wear a mask when they are providing direct care to patients, clients or residents. The current direction from provincial health authorities regarding PPE for their staff is:

  • All health care workers and staff who have direct contact with patients in acute care, critical care, long-term care, and community care must wear a surgical / procedural mask, eye protection and gloves for all patient interactions.
  •  This requires extending the use of mask and eye protection:
     o One mask per shift, changing the mask if it is too damp, soiled, or damaged for safe use, and / or changing the mask if the health care worker’s shift includes a meal break;
    o Eye protection (i.e., eye goggles or face shield) to be used throughout the shift with appropriate cleaning protocols at shift end. When goggles and face shields are depleted, safety glasses can be used with the same cleaning protocols in place;
    o Gloves must be changed between patients.
  •  All health care workers and staff who have direct contact with patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 must engage in routine droplet and contact precautions, which includes a gown.   

During health-care procedures where aerosols may be generated (for example, when giving certain inhaled medications), healthcare workers should observe airborne, droplet and contact precautions, which includes wearing specialized masks (N95 or similar). 

It is important to note that the use of PPE (gloves, gowns, eye protection/face shields, masks, etc.) must be in the context of an overall exposure control plan prepared by your employer that includes other measures (screening, social distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene, enhanced cleaning, etc.) to eliminate or mitigate exposure to the coronavirus.  

What if I have an underlying health condition that makes me more vulnerable to complications arising from exposure to COVID-19?  

The BCCDC and the Ministry of Health provide information about COVID-19 for people with chronic health conditions here: http://www.bccdc.ca/resourcegallery/Documents/Guidelines%20and%20Forms/Guidelines%20and%20Manuals/Epid/CD%20Manual/C hapter%201%20-%20CDC/COVID-19-Handout-chronic-disease.pdf

Current information suggests that older people with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease are at higher risk of developing more severe illness or complications from COVID19. Although most people with COVID-19 recover, people with chronic diseases are also at higher risk of death if they become ill. Some of the clients you support have these conditions and are thus more vulnerable to complications from COVID-19. 

BCCDC says people that are at higher risk should follow general preventative strategies against infection, and should they become ill, they should seek medical help early. For these individuals, the best way to currently protect themselves from COVID-19 is:

  •  Protective self-isolation and maintaining social distance
  •  Taking additional precautionary measures, such as washing hands regularly and avoiding touching their face  
  • Stay away from other people who are ill, and if they are sick themselves, to stay away from others 

According to the BCCDC (http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/vulnerablepopulations/children-with-immuno-suppression), protective self-isolation means staying separate from other people as much as possible.This includes:

  • Avoid people who have a cough, cold or flu symptoms
  • Avoid people who have been in contact with someone who may have had COVID-19 in the last 14 days  
  • Avoid people who have traveled outside the country in the last 14 days
  • Avoid crowds and places that many people pass through
  • Avoid groups of children or people
  • When indoors, and in closed spaces, stay at least 2 metres from other people 

It is important for all community social services workers to know that if their employer is not ensuring workers with health conditions are able to follow this advice, they have the right to refuse unsafe work. Refusing unsafe work is a step-by-step process outlined below. Workers may also request a medical accommodation or a COVID-19 related leave without pay under newly enacted legislation.  

Medical Accommodation 
This option is only available to members with an ongoing medical condition that meets with the definition of physical disability pursuant to the Human Rights Code of BC. Where an employee advises the employer that they have a physical disability that makes them vulnerable to complications if they contract the virus, (particularly where social distancing is not fully implemented and/or particularly if someone present at the worksite is advised by the Medical Health Officer to self-isolate for 14 days and have decided not to), the Employer's duty to accommodate is initiated. That means that the employer is expected to take steps to the point of undue hardship to attempt to accommodate your disability.  This may mean restrictions or limitations on the work you presently do or some other form of work.
 
The medical accommodation process is formalized by a written request for medical accommodation pursuant to the Human Rights Code. An email is acceptable for this purpose. Our members need to make sure they include what accommodation they are requesting and what is the nature of their medical condition. Members may provide this information to Occupational Health or their Human Resources department if they are concerned about medical privacy. The second document required in a formal medical accommodation is a medical letter from your doctor confirming your medical condition and advising of the restrictions or limitations required to your work to accommodate your medical condition and how long the accommodation is required. Since it is not recommended to go to your doctor unless absolutely necessary right now, members are encouraged to try an informal approach first.  Ask your steward to assist you or seek guidance from your union representative. 

Leave of Absence under the Employment Standards Act 

Last week the provincial government made changes to the Employment Standards Act that specifically address issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.  An employee can take unpaid, job-protected leave related to COVID-19 if they're unable to work for any of the listed reasons.  You can access those reasons here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/employment-standardsadvice/employment-standards/time-off/leaves-of-absence#covid19. This leave is retroactive to January 27, 2020, the date that the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in British Columbia.  

What if I feel the work I am expected to perform is unsafe? 

If you feel that your health and safety is at risk, you have the right to refuse unsafe work and expect the employer to respond as per the process laid out in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. The procedure for refusing unsafe work is outlined below in simplified terms. More detailed information about the work refusal process is available here: https://www.bcgeu.ca/your_right_to_refuse_unsafe_work 

Step 1: Inform your immediate supervisor or employer that you are refusing unsafe work under Occupational Health and Safety Regulation section 3.12. The employer must then investigate your concerns and make the work safe for you. If the employer does not agree with your belief that the work is unsafe, go to step 2. 
 
Step 2: The employer must include a union representative or Joint Safety and Health Committee ("JSHC") representative to investigate your concerns. If no union representative or JSHC representative is available, then the worker gets to choose another worker to assess the situation. If the worker still believes the work is unsafe, go to step 3. 

Step 3: The worker and employer together call WorkSafeBC to inform them of a refusal of unsafe work. WorkSafeBC is expected to investigate without undue delay and assess and make their determination. In the meantime, the employer can assign you to a different task while the matter is being investigated. Only when WorkSafeBC says it is safe to resume the refused work, can you carry out the work.  

The Employer cannot discriminate or retaliate against you for asserting that work is unsafe.  

There are "no discrimination" provisions in the Workers' Compensation Act (sections 150-153) to protect workers from any adverse treatment due to a work refusal. Article 22.4 of your collective agreement includes these same protections against reprisals for refusing unsafe work. In addition, a worker cannot lose pay while asserting their rights under the refusal of unsafe work provisions in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation

IMPORTANT: If you are exercising this right in your workplace, please keep your JSHC members, steward and your union representative informed or contact [email protected]. These resources and staff can assist you with your concerns and support you through this process.

Due to the nature of my work, I cannot maintain physical/social distancing and I haven't been issued PPE (personal protective equipment) like gloves, masks and gowns. What should I do?  

Overall, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure workers are properly informed, trained, equipped and supervised when working in settings where there’s risk of exposure to COVID-19. Your union expects that the employer will provide timely, specific and clear direction to workers on the infection control protocols they will follow to avoid exposure to the virus. We expect the employer to ensure there is sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on hand for the workers that need it and that the employer provides appropriate training in its use. 
According to infection control guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada (outlined by the BCCDC here: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-professionals/clinical-resources/covid-19-care/infectioncontrol/personal-protective-equipment), contact and droplet precautions are required when providing care for confirmed COVID-19 patients, or for clients under investigation for COVID-19. These precautions involve workers wearing gloves, a surgical mask, face shield and a long-sleeved gown. Aerosol producing medical procedures require additional PPE, including an N95 or similar mask.  
 
If you do not have the PPE you need for an assigned task, stop and speak with your supervisor. Workers have the right to refuse unsafe work as per Section 3.12 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation as described above. 

What if I am concerned about my or other's mental health? 

This is a very stressful time for many people and their friends, family and coworkers.  If you or the people you care about need support, please go to the Ministry of Health website for some useful guidance and resources: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/mental-healthsubstance-use/managing-covid-stress 

For current information on COVID-19 for Community Social Services members, visit https://www.bcgeu.ca/covid_19_information_for_community_social_services_members and for general information from the BCGEU on COVID-19, please go to our information hub at www.bcgeu.ca/covid. If you have specific questions about COVID-19, please send your inquiries to [email protected].
 

 
 


It’s time to support essential workers – COVID-19 update

It's time to support essential workers – COVID-19 update

From the moment Coronavirus was declared a public health crisis several weeks ago through the declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic last month, thousands of you have raised concerns to your Stewards, Local Chairs and Component VPs about how your work and your workplaces have been impacted. Your union has been working hard with your employers to address those concerns as quickly and effectively as possible in this time of extraordinary uncertainty and stress. 
 
As part of that work, today I sent this letter to Carole James, Finance Minister and head of the Public Service Agency and the Public Sector Employers' Council, demanding immediate support for essential workers in direct government and the broader public service for the duration of the Provincial State of Emergency. In the coming days we will be making similar demands of other employers.
 
Please read the attachment and please continue to raise your concerns. We are on an uncertain road right now but I truly believe we will get through this together-and your union will be fighting for you every step of the way. 
 
In solidarity,
 
Stephanie Smith
BCGEU President



UWU/MoveUP

BCGEU Letter to the PSA – COVID-19 update

Since Coronavirus was declared a public health crisis several weeks ago to the declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic last month, thousands of you have raised concerns to your stewards, local chairs and component vice presidents about impacts on your work. Your union has been working hard with your employers to address those concerns as quickly and effectively as possible in this time of extraordinary uncertainty and stress. 
 
As part of that work, today I sent the below letter to John Davison, head of the BC Public Service Agency, demanding a pandemic response MOU to address a number of issues for the duration of the provincial state of emergency.
 
Please read the letter and please continue to raise your concerns. We are on an uncertain road right now but I truly believe we will get through this together-and your union will be fighting for you every step of the way. 

In solidarity,
 
Stephanie Smith
BCGEU President 


Download Davison Ltr Apr 2, 2020.pdf

UWU/MoveUP


C1 - First confirmed case of COVID-19 - Update Apr 2

Component 1 Update: First confirmed case of COVID-19

 

First Confirmed case of COVID-19

Adult Custody Division (ACD) has confirmed the first inmate to test positive for COVID-19 at Okanagan Correctional Centre (OCC). The inmate is asymptomatic but will continue on isolation droplet protocols for 14 days. Healthcare staff are investigating how many staff and others may have had contact with the inmate in recent days.

 

This first confirmed case reaffirms the importance of following all Provincial Health Officer (PHO) guidelines in your worksites. Familiarize yourself with those rules and if you are concerned that they are not being followed where you work, immediately notify the employer and a union OH&S representative.

 

Dean Purdy is communicating with ACD regularly to ensure that required safety measures are being implemented. Local 104 chair Brandon Cox, Local 105 chair Krissie Hayes, and BCGEU staff representative Brian Campbell are working on the following risk assessments with ACD.

  • Isolation units
  • Force options training
  • Physical distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE)

The BCGEU is prepared to work with all employers at every level to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, but we will not agree to measures that fall short of directions from the PHO. This new case of COVID-19 at the OCC shows us that we all need to up our awareness and initiate strict protocols recommended by both the risk assessments and the PHO.

 

 

Ongoing OH&S requirements 

Infectious disease risk assessments, with the input of local OH&S committees, should be conducted at all Component 1 worksites.

 

All staff must be provided and afforded the opportunity to wear the PPE required to keep them safe.

 

Audits of PPE supplies at all worksites to ensure there is enough for all contingencies e.g. codes and widespread COVID-19 infection in the workplace.

 

Further training to help staff identify and respond to symptoms of COVID-19.

 

Aggressive cleaning/ disinfection protocols should be in place and followed by everyone.

 

CIRT and CISM teams should be updated and prepared to manage increased mental health and fatigue issues. Mental strain can lead to OH&S mistakes, and all members need to be aware and seek help when needed.

 

Continued updates and transparency from the employer are critical. 

 

Ask your local OH&S committee representative if you have any questions, or check out the BCGEU COVID-19 OH&S page at: https://www.bcgeu.ca/covid_19_ohs

 

 

Pay

Currently public service employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19, whether sick or otherwise required to self-isolate, are entitled to receive STIIP benefits of 75 per cent pay. Our union is advocating on your behalf to be able to receive full pay when told to self-isolate or when you become infected with COVID-19.

 

We also believe both Corrections & Sheriffs should receive fair compensation for danger pay because of the onerous conditions we have to work and having to respond to constant emergencies that puts us a constant risk to exposure.

 

 

Childcare for essential workers

Component 1 and the BCGEU have been pursuing childcare support for essential service workers, specifically Corrections & Sheriffs who are designated as first responders, and the BC Government rolled out a program for dealing with the issue earlier this week. Please check the BC Government website for further information: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020CFD0017-000599

 

 

Wage increase (2nd year of the agreement)

Reminder that a wage increase for all Public Service employees kicked in April 1, 2020, effective the first pay period after. Please see Appendix 3 of your collective agreement for your new wage rates. Correctional Officers in Adult Custody & Deputy Sheriffs will receive a 5.3% wage increase and other classifications range from 2% and upward.

 

The BCGEU and your component 1 executive is continuing to advocate for all steps required to keep you safe and secure at work, and will keep you updated on any COVID-19 related information important to you as it arises.

Raise any COVID-19 concerns or suggestions with your employer and your local union representative, or contact the BCGEU at any time at [email protected] . 

 

In solidarity,

Dean Purdy
Component 1 Chair & BCGEU Vice President



UWU/MoveUP

Component 4 - Health Care Worker Update

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 [email protected] 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


Health Care Worker COVID-19 Update - Component 8

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 [email protected] 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