Preparing for COVID-19: Message from Darlene Jackson

Publish date: Friday, March 13, 2020

AGM

COVID-19

Health and safety

MNU President Darlene Jackson issued the following statement to members on March 13, 2020

As you are now aware, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. 

According to the WHO's March 12 Situation Report, over 125,000 people have been infected across the world, and this has resulted in over 4,500 deaths. In Canada, there are currently 152 confirmed cases, three probable cases, and one death related to COVID-19.

As of March 13 at 9:00 am, there is one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Manitoba, and two presumptive cases.

The COVID-19 outbreak is a rapidly changing situation, and MNU is monitoring developments closely. As nurses, we understand the importance of taking every necessary precaution, and that includes implementing social distancing measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The provincial government has officially recommended social distancing strategies to all Manitobans and published additional guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Likewise, we must take action on this now in light of all available scientific evidence, and as the pandemic risks escalate exponentially.

AGM 2020 

Earlier today, I informed the MNU Board of Directors and all Regional/Local/Worksite Presidents that I have decided to cancel all activities related to AGM 2020 in Brandon from April 27 to 30, 2020. Please note the following:

  • In-lieu of an in-person gathering, AGM business will be conducted online through a digital platform (e.g., Zoom) on April 28, 2020 in the afternoon.
  • Only voting delegates will be required to participate, and an online voting system and teleconferencing link will be set up to allow full democratic participation.
  • The AGM agenda will be shortened to include only essential business items, and will be distributed to delegates and members at a later date.
  • If you have booked accommodations for AGM 2020, you are responsible for cancelling your reservations. MNU recommends doing so at your earliest opportunity to ensure a full refund.

At this time, our primary concern is the safety of all Manitobans, including MNU members who will be critical to ensuring an effective response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Considering the exceptional circumstances, we cannot risk jeopardizing the health of any person through our actions, and that requires cancelling in-person events scheduled for the coming weeks. More information will be shared in the coming days, and posted at manitobanurses.ca.

Precautionary Principle

I also want to address the workplace concerns that many of you have shared in recent days. As nurses, we understand the severity of the situation and the importance of limiting the spread of the disease. Our commitment is to care for our patients, and we must ensure all health care staff are adequately protected in the line of duty. 

Our position is clear: safety is not negotiable. That is why MNU is advocating for the full implementation of the precautionary principle – established in 2003 in the aftermath of the SARS outbreak – including the provision of fit-tested NIOSH-approved N-95 respirators to all health care staff that require them. The N-95 respirator is designed to protect against 95% of airborne particulates free of oil when tested against a 0.3-micron particle.

MNU is closely monitoring the situation, and is working with government and health officials to ensure adequate measures are taken to slow and reduce the transmission of COVID-19. The government has insisted it is adding capacity to the system, and we continue to seek detailed information to ensure adequate staffing plans are in place.

MNU has shared a list of resources for nurses and employers to help reduce the risk of transmission. These resources were developed in partnership with the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) and serve as useful guidelines for nurses and other health care workers.

Please visit manitobanurses.ca/covid-19-statement for more information, and check the website regularly for updates.

In addition, I encourage all of you to review the resources posted online by our governments and health authorities:

I appreciate your understanding and cooperation during this difficult time. Your commitment to caring is critically important for the health and well-being of our province.

Thank you,

Darlene Jackson
President
Manitoba Nurses Union

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