Unions are asking for immediate production of test kits
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and Unifor issued a joint open letter to Premier Doug Ford to ask that unions be involved in consultations about what happens during any shortages of personal protective equipment.
The unions issued the letter to address Directive #5 which only refers to registered nurses and suggests that only one union be consulted about workplace shortages of personal protective equipment.
“All of our members (as well as Ontario's physicians and many others) are excluded from the recent Directive issued by the Chief Medical Officer of Ontario,” read part of the letter.
The unions also want Ford to order Ontario industries to urgently produce PPE.
“Ontario industry is capable of making testing kits, N95 masks, face shields, gloves and gowns and ventilators. The Chinese government established working factories in 2 weeks to meet the COVID-19 challenge,” the unions said.
The unions also call on the government to step up its testing for COVID-19, particularly amongst vulnerable populations such as hospital patients and long-term care residents. They also noted that the rate of COVID-19 infection among Ontario's hospital and long-term care staff is four times that of the public even though they make up just three per cent of the population.
“Our members are falling ill with this virus because they are inadequately protected at work and some of them go on to infect their family members, other staff and the patients and residents whose frail immune systems are in no position to withstand this virus.”
The unions vowed that their members will continue to “nurse, protect, support and comfort those in their care” and ask for Ford’s immediate support for their urgent requests to send “a strong signal to the health-care workforce that their advice as well as their sacrifice are valued” by the government.