A message regarding COVID – 19
By now, everyone has heard a lot about COVID-19; the novel coronavirus that the World Health Organization (WHO) is now calling a global pandemic.
March 12, 2020
As of March 12, 2020, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) still rates the risk of COVID-19 in Canada as low. It is the responsibility of all us to make sure we do our part to limit the spread of the virus as much as possible.
The nature of our work at the Union means that our Representatives and staff interact with Members and the public on a daily basis. Workplace visits will continue in a scaled-back manner to limit possible transmission. The Union has advised all of our field and office staff that if they feel unwell, they are to immediately cease unit visits and interactions with the Membership.
There are, of course, situations that require in-person interaction such as negotiations and some grievance meetings. These will continue when necessary. Technology will allow much of our servicing to take place via text, email, and calls – whether one-on-one, in conference, or via Skype or other providers.
Again, all Union staff has been informed that they should not attend meetings or conduct workplace visits if they feel ill.
Upcoming Union Events
Following the lead of a number of organizations and public health administration in provinces like British Columbia, the Local Union has made the difficult decision to postpone our Stewards Conferences and Health Care Conference. These conferences were originally scheduled to begin in late April through to early June.
We are working with our venues and providers to reschedule each of these gatherings for later on in the year. Stewards will receive notice in the mail of these postponements. We will provide further information on new dates once finalized.
Best Practices to Stay Healthy and Prevent Virus Transmission
Monitor your health and that of your family for symptoms:
- Cough; and,
- Difficulty Breathing.
If you suspect you may have the virus or come into contact with someone who has it, you should self-isolate and notify your doctor or health care provider BEFORE you visit the doctor’s office/walk-in/emergency services.
Update: Visit ontario.ca/coronavirus to see the self-assessment tool.
You can also reach out to the Public Health agency in Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.
The Government of Canada has a COVID – 19 information hotline at 1-833-784-4397 or visit canada.ca/coronavirus.
While we know that everyone is sick of hearing they should wash their hands properly and regularly – it can’t hurt to repeat it along with some other best practices:
- Wash your hands frequently and well. Use soap and warm water and scrub all over your hands and in between your fingers for at least 20 seconds. Singing Happy Birthday to yourself twice is usually about the right amount of time.
Someone even created Wash Your Lyrics! You just enter the name of a song and the artist and it creates a lyric meme to wash your hands to.
- Avoid touching your face, especially if your hands aren’t recently washed. Touching our face is something we all do all the time without thinking. But, the moist lining of your mouth and nose, and your eyes are prime spots for the virus to enter your system.
- Recent information on COVID – 19 states that it’s possible for the virus to last days on some surfaces. So, reasonably disinfect the surfaces that you can and wash your hands frequently.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue which you should dispose of immediately followed by washing your hands.
- Stay home if you are sick.
If you have questions and concerns about the impact of being ill with COVID – 19 may have with regard to your job, please reach out to your employer and your Union Representative.