Safety Is Not Negotiable for Anyone -- Including Healthcare Workers

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2022 ... March 16, 2020

Safety Is Not Negotiable for Anyone -- Including Healthcare Workers

The following is a joint statement issued March 13 by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Unifor, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

As labour organizations representing close to a million healthcare workers, we are calling for the Public Health Agency of Canada and all provincial public health offices to protect healthcare workers and their patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are also urging decision-makers to adhere to the precautionary principle, which calls for reasonable safeguards when a virus is clouded in scientific uncertainty.

Our healthcare system is already running over capacity; we simply cannot afford to erode staffing levels any further if healthcare workers become sick and self-quarantine. It is therefore imperative that we protect healthcare workers so that they can continue to provide safe and effective care.

To health ministers and health employers, we say: this responsibility lies... with you. To stop the transmission of COVID-19, healthcare workers must be equipped with the appropriate fit-tested personal protective equipment. Employers must provide the necessary training and supports -- and they must mandate point-of-care risk assessments that empower healthcare workers to assess their own risk and act accordingly.

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