14-Day Paid COVID Leave Welcome, But Details Lacking: MNU President

Publish date: Tuesday, April 14, 2020


Health and safety

MNU President

Manitoba's nurses welcome the Pallister government's commitment to provide 14-day paid leave to asymptomatic health care workers exposed to COIVD-19, MNU President Darlene Jackson announced today.

“This is a policy that MNU has been fighting for since the outset of the pandemic, and is a step in the right direction. However, we are working to clarify a number of details which greatly impact the rollout of this program.”

In particular, MNU is concerned about the treatment of symptomatic health care workers, which appear to be exempt from coverage. MNU is calling on the government to go one step further and immediately introduce presumptive WCB coverage for all health care workers who are symptomatic.

As it stands, the proposed system penalizes symptomatic workers. For example, if a worker is off on paid leave and asymptomatic, but later develops symptoms and is confirmed positive before the end of their 14 day isolation period, they would be required to access sick leave instead.

Further, if a COVID-19 test comes back negative even though a worker has symptoms, they would theoretically have to go back to the employer again to switch back to the new leave plan.  

MNU is also working to confirm whether the leave announced today applies to all sites across the province, or if there are limitations.

These issues create needless complications and confusion. 

“Simply put, we believe all health care workers should receive 14 day paid leave for exposure to COVID-19, regardless of whether they are symptomatic or not, confirmed positive or not. The government needs to rollout benefit programs in a clean and consistent manner,” said Jackson. “The gap for symptomatic workers could be covered through presumptive WCB coverage for health care workers that contract COVID-19.”

The new provisions appear to be backdated to apply to leaves that started on or after March 1, 2020.

Despite the apparent issues, Jackson noted that today’s announcement is a testament to the leadership and strength of nurses and health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It’s clear that our advocacy and our collective efforts are helping to move the policy framework to one that is more inclusive and respectful of the contributions of nurses and other care providers," added Jackson.


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