Warning message

Please note that this page is from our archives. There may be more up-to-date content about this topic on our website. Use our search engine to find out.
As you know, Toronto is at the centre of a public health emergency that has caused grave concern for the citizens of this region, across the country and around the world.

CUPE and its members are very concerned about this threat and are committed to doing everything we can to help prevent the spread of this disease.

Among those who are most at risk are the CUPE members who deliver public services that are most critical in dealing with this situation – hospital workers, community health workers, ambulance paramedics, social services workers and long-term care workers.

As the union that represents these front line workers – and many others who deal face to face with the public, and work behind the scenes to protect public health and safety – we want to stress the need for urgent action to protect these workers.

It’s essential that our members be on the job but it is also essential that these workers be protected.

Why? Because given the critical role our members play, the public is at risk when our members aren’t properly protected.

We want to express our concern and our support for everyone in the community who has been affected, including those of our members who have contracted SARS. We wish them a full and speedy recovery.

We also want to express our concern and solidarity for the hundreds of CUPE members in the Toronto area and elsewhere in Ontario, British Columbia and other provinces who are in quarantine because they have been exposed to the disease. Thousands of CUPE members and other workers are also working to contain the risk of infection.

They are working sterilizing hospitals, schools, ambulances and public buildings

They are maintaining our public health inspections and preventive programs

They are clearing hazardous waste from homes and hospitals where SARS patients are being cared for.

We want to thank them for being there.

Today, as every day, they are out there providing vital public services – but it is at times like this that we are most aware of the critical importance of public services.

And despite their personal concerns, it is at times like this that it is most important that public sector workers are on the job, delivering the services we count on at the community level.

At the same time it is essential that the rights of these workers be respected and that their health and safety be protected.

Today we have issued an Alert to our membership to help educate them about the risk and clarify the measures they should demand to protect their health and safety while continuing to provide these vital services.

We are calling on employers to ensure that every worker who is exposed to a potential risk be supplied with a mask that meets N95 guidelines and appropriate protective equipment.

We also call on employers to work with unions and with joint health and safety committees to properly identify risks and proactive steps to prevent a further outbreak.

The situation is changing regularly and rapidly. We know more every day. Each day we have heard of new groups that are being affected.

For that reason, it is essential that employers work with us, keeping lines of communication open and ensuring we can maintain the type of trust that’s needed to overcome this challenge.

Working together in a proactive way, we can prevent the further spread of infection.