Read the Letter Here:
As an organization of workers, safe workplaces are of primary concern. On April 7, 2020, after Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam stated that the use of non-medical masks by individuals while in public is an additional measure that can be used by people with no symptoms to prevent the spread of COVID-19, SEIU sent a letter to all non-healthcare employers stating the union’s position.
Occupational Health and Safety legislation in all Canadian jurisdictions requires employer to take all reasonably practical steps to ensure the health and safety of workers. Considering the government’s announcement, it our position that Employers, who are still operating and requiring employees to physically be present at the workplace, are required to undertake the following measures:
- Require all employees to wear non-medical masks at the workplace.
- Provide all employees with non-medical masks for use during work. Where an employer has difficulty obtaining these masks (due to supply issues) that employer should make reasonable efforts to supply comparable alternatives until supplies can obtained.
- Provide employees with proper instruction on the safe use and disposal of non-medical masks.
- The use of non-medical masks is NOT a replacement for other measures such as handwashing and physical distancing in the workplace. Therefore, Employers should continue these practices.
We believe that these measures are essential to maintaining worker safety.
Where employers fail to take the above measures, it is our position that our members have the right to refuse to perform unsafe work.