'It is imperative that management and operators discharge the necessary PPE to meet their health and safety obligations in the workplace'
A new directive from Canada’s chief public health officer is being applauded by unions representing healthcare workers.
Directive #5, issued by Theresa Tam, provides clear guidance on the issuance of personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare staff working on the front lines.
In particular, the unions had positive words for the government requiring hospital and long-term care facilities dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak to provide their staff with N-95 or superior protection masks, face shields and other equipment.
The updated standards include improved precautionary measures that put worker safety first, says Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare.
“It is imperative that management and operators discharge the necessary PPE to meet their health and safety obligations in the workplace.”
As many healthcare workers across Canada battle the coronavirus outbreak, a second health crisis may emerge that could debilitate that workforce: moral injury.
The enhanced standards state that if a healthcare worker in a facility in outbreak comes in contact with a suspected, probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 in a patient or resident where two-metre distance cannot be assured, that healthcare worker can determine if a fit-tested N-95 respirator or approved equivalent or better protection is needed and, if so, must receive it.
The use of face coverings is now mandatory in all public indoor settings across Ontario, such as businesses, facilities and workplaces.
In July, the federal government launched an Essential Services Contingency Reserve where essential service organizations could apply for temporary, urgent access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical supplies.