Message from the President: MNU’s COVID-19 priorities

Publish date: Friday, April 03, 2020

COVID-19

Health and safety

MNU President

Dear members, 

As the number of COVID-19 cases increases in Manitoba, MNU’s number one priority remains holding the government and employers to account to ensure that nurses have the access to the health and safety controls they need.  

This week, we learned of a number of infections occurring in several health facilities across the province affecting nurses and other health care workers. The details of these individual cases are deeply concerning on a manyof levels. We have been following up on each individual case directly with affected nurses and employers. We have also called on the government both publicly and through internal channels, to step up their efforts to ensure you’re safe on the job.  

Let me be clear: Safety for nurses is not negotiable. We are doing everything in our power to hold government and employers to account on this issue.  

With so much news circulating, and many inquiries from members, I also wanted to share MNU’s priorities with you:

  • Ensuring all nurses have appropriate Personal Protective Equipment and health and safety controls in place when they need it for their own protection and to protect their patients. 
  • Implementing Point-of-Care Risk Assessments to be completed before each interaction with suspected, presumed or confirmed COVID-19 patient. Following the PCRA, MNU believes nurses should be afforded access to appropriate health and safety control measures needed, based on their own professional and clinical judgement. PCRAs have already been implemented in other provinces including BC, Alberta and Ontario. We’ve called on Manitoba to follow suit. 
  • Paid leave for nurses who must self-isolate as a result of exposure. MNU believes nurses who are forced to self-isolate should not be forced to draw down sick leave or other banked time. 
  • Full transparency on provincial PPE stocks so nurses and other stakeholders can respond appropriately, and assist in conservation and stewardship efforts to safely maximize use of available PPE. 
  • Ensuring nurses who need it can get safe, accessible and affordable child care.  
  • Consistency in application of self-isolation for nurses who have been exposed to COVID-19. Too many nurses are being called back to work before completing 14 days of isolation, especially when research shows that asymptomatic people can shed the virus. 
  • Presumptive Workers Compensation coverage for nurses who test positive for COVID-19.  
  • Work disruption allowances for all nurses reassigned to different units as a result of COVID-19.  
  • COVID-19 premiums, but further, a raise for ALL NURSES given the government’s failure to negotiate a new contract for over 3 years now. MNU believes that if the government is sincerely appreciative of the efforts of nurses during this time, they ought to do right by nurses beyond mere lip service. 

Beyond these key priorities we continue to advocate for clear communication of policies and guidelines, consistent application across jurisdictions, and much more. We have issued multiple public statements over the last few weeks calling for action on issues as they arise. We have also directly lobbied government, frequently and at multiple points, seeking to have measures implemented as quickly as possible. 

Though there has been some progress in limited areas, unfortunately to date government has failed to take action or in some cases even acknowledge our concerns. 

It’s frustrating given the significance of what’s at stake, but I want to assure each and every one of you that we will continue to fight for your health and safety and your needs every step of the way throughout this challenging time. 

MNU is advocating for you, and we will continue to advocate forcefully for the entire duration of this pandemic. 

Though these are challenging times for all of us, I know that the strength, professionalism and incredible resilience that nurses continue to show every single day will carry us through this. Manitobans need us now, perhaps more than ever, and through this they will see what I have seen throughout my career—that when nurses work together, we are an incredible force. 

Thank you for your extraordinary efforts during this unprecedented time. 

In solidarity, 

Darlene Jackson 
President 
Manitoba Nurses Union 

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