There should be one set of rules that apply to all hospital staff said CUPE today in calling out the CEO of the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre (ROMHC) for her silence on the storm over the approval of international travel and paid quarantine for a senior manager.

“The approval of international travel for a senior manager at the hospital and pay for her to quarantine at home, highlight the world in which most health care staff are expected to work without relief and assume all of the risk of working in an environment with a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19, while senior managers are not at all subject to the same rules,” said Sharon Richer, Secretary-Treasurer of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions of CUPE.

Front-line staff at ROMHC cannot get vacation due to provincial emergency orders for health care workers imposed because of COVID-19. If hospital staff have to isolate pending COVID-19 test results or be quarantined, they are not paid.

6438 Ontarians have died of COVID-19. 20 of those were health care workers. 17,250 Ontario health care workers have contracted COVID-19 at work.

ROMHC is not the first hospital where international travel for a senior manager was approved. “It is, however the first where there has been no apology to the hospital staff and to the community for the poor leadership that international travel in the face of public health orders demonstrates,” said OCHU/CUPE President, Michael Hurley.

When it comes to setting the standard for the community in terms of how best to fight COVID-19, health care institutions have a duty to be exemplary, Hurley added. “It is overdue for the CEO of ROMHC to acknowledge that the institution has let its staff and the people of Ottawa-Carleton down and that it will do better.”