The Manitoba Government’s COVID-19 Update #19 issued on March 18 directs employees who have arrived from international travel since March 15 to report to work. This is a significant change from previous directions that all Manitobans returning from international travel must self-quarantine.

This raises concerns because COVID-19 symptoms may not present themselves until 2 to 14 days after contact.

CUPE believes this is putting patients and staff at risk, by forcing potentially exposed individuals into environments where there is the potential to spread the virus.

CUPE is aware of this occurring in both personal care homes and hospitals, and the directive could also apply to home care, putting our most vulnerable citizens at risk of infection.

CUPE issued a letter to the health authorities, demanding all health authorities to do the following:

  1. Offer a fully paid leave for staff returning from international travel for the full fourteen (14) day self-quarantine period.
  2. Never order a potentially exposed staff member into work during the self-quarantine period.
  3. Fully pay all employees – including home care workers – for all illnesses, quarantines and isolations without a waiting period.

If government is worried about lack of staffing, they shouldn’t potentially make matters worse by asking employees returning from international travel to come to work.This is indicative of a health care system that, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, was already short staffed – especially after the provincial government’s restructuring and bumping of positions.

During this pandemic Manitoba families are pulling together to self-quarantine and take care of each other – health authorities need to lead by example instead of putting people at risk.