I hope you are all doing well. I wanted to reach out to you with an update on what we have been doing since our last update.
We continue to work provincially and regionally to resolve both pandemic-related and other workplace concerns for you and the other members. We encourage you to reach out to your elected officers at the facility level or regional office with any concerns that you may have.
As the number of active cases continues to grow in Saskatchewan – we are carefully watching and continue to have daily briefings with representatives from the Ministry of Health and the Saskatchewan Health Authority. We know that CUPE members are on the frontlines of fighting this pandemic and are the backbone of the pandemic response.
As you know, a state of emergency was declared by the Province of Saskatchewan on March 18, 2020. This gave the province broad powers to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The state of emergency has been renewed every two-weeks since then and was most recently renewed July 22. In other provincial jurisdictions the state of emergency has been lifted and the province and the SHA are looking to the future when it could be lifted here. The temporary Letter of Understanding that the five health care unions in Saskatchewan signed with the employer to deal with the formation of labour pools, re-deployment and cohorting expires 28-days following the lifting of the state of emergency. This means that there will have to be other mechanisms in place to ensure that resumption of health care services can occur while still providing COVID-19 related health care services like expanded 811, screening and testing and assessment centres. This will be accomplished with temporary postings for this work in accordance with the collective agreements – which you will see posted.
A number of Public Health Orders have also been issued since the pandemic began. Public Health Orders are separate from the state of emergency and can also be issued in non-pandemic times. The current orders can be found here.
The current orders limit gathering sizes, prescribe what businesses can operate and how, prescribe mandatory self-isolation for people who are COVID positive and so on. They also mandate cohorting in personal care homes and long-term care as we have experienced since it was implemented in April of this year. The Public Health Orders change over time with additions, for example, to allow for the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan to proceed.
As the Public Health Orders are separate from the state of emergency, we have to think about how cohorting will work within the context of the collective agreement absent the temporary Letter of Understanding. Talks with the Saskatchewan Health Authority are ongoing. We need to hear from you on how cohorting is impacting you. Please contact your regional office.
Yesterday, the Government of Saskatchewan announced that they were expanding the Saskatchewan Temporary Wage Supplement Program to include workers in integrated facilities in the non-income tested portion of the program. Thank you to all of those members who reached out to their MLA to advocate for this change. We too were advocating for these workers to be included. The deadline for applications was extended to September 1, 2020. The website has not been updated to allow for these workers to apply so please continue to check back. It can be accessed here.
We do not believe that this expansion goes far enough and as we have communicated before we want to see the program expanded to include all health care workers in the province. The providers have a petition for such a change, and we encourage you to sign it and share widely. It can be accessed here.
The unions representing health care providers in Saskatchewan issued the following statement outlining our concerns: You can read the full media release here.
Please contact your MLA – tell them that a fair wage supplement is a wage supplement for all health care workers!
Thank you for your hard work every day. Please reach out to us at the contacts below. We love hearing from you, and we need to know how things are going in the workplace and how we can help.
- Main office: 306-546-2185