CUPE Saskatchewan is concerned that the Re-open Saskatchewan Plan does not provide enough clarity when it comes to front-line workers.
“This plan was clearly designed with business interest in mind, and it does not address the concerns facing working families,” said Judy Henley, President of CUPE Saskatchewan. “There is no solution for parents who require childcare to return to work, no solution for workers who have exhausted their sick leave benefits, and there is no solution for protecting front-line workers.”
Provincial and international shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be a major hurdle in ensuring the province can re-open safely, said Henley.
“Accessing PPE is already a challenge for front-line workers who have been deemed essential. We have heard many concerning reports from our members: employers rationing gloves and masks, employees being told to reuse masks, and group homes running out of essentials such as disinfectants and paper towels,” added Henley. “With more businesses opening, how is the Government of Saskatchewan going to ensure that workers are protected and have access to the PPE they need?”
CUPE is also concerned about the enforcement of occupational health and safety measures during the reopening.
“Who will be responsible for monitoring the new exposure opportunities and physical distancing in these newly opened businesses? Who will be able to respond to concerns from workers about violations?”, said Henley. “There are simply not enough resources for WorkSafe Saskatchewan to properly investigate and enforce guidelines around physical distancing and PPE.”
CUPE Saskatchewan is the largest union in the province and represents over 30,000 workers in health care, education, universities, community-based organizations, childcare, municipalities, libraries, social services, board and agencies, and many more.