CUPE - Canadian Union of Public Employees

11/27/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/27/2020 13:40

Healthcare staff at odds with NB government over surgical masks

[Link]CUPE1252, representing over 12,000 members in the New Brunswick healthcare system, is appalled by the reductions of personal protective equipment (PPE) allocation for healthcare staff.

'From day one, the staff have all had access to level 3 surgical masks to provide a maximum layer of protection just below the N95. However, Horizon recently downgraded that requirement to a level 1, and that is simply wrong,' said Norma Robinson, President of CUPE1252.

A level one mask only provides general protection for staff, whereas a level 3 provides maximum protection. 'It now appears as though the province and health authorities are going to nickel and dime the staff and throw health and safety to the wolves,' added Robinson.

CUPE1252 has been very cooperative with the provincial government and health authorities when it comes to dealing with this global pandemic, but that cooperation is now becoming strained. Since the beginning of this pandemic, there has been plenty of understanding of the importance of proper PPEfor all staff and that included the right to proper face protection.

'The first and last line of defence against this virus are the hospitals in this province, and it makes no sense at all to jeopardize the staff that is providing that defence,' says Ralph McBride, CUPENational Servicing Representative.

'We are 9 months into this fight, in the middle of the second wave. How can they pivot and say their employees' health does not matter by downgrading these masks to something inferior than first supplied?' asked McBride.

'Healthcare employees are working above and beyond in their stressful daily routines. The last thing they should worry about in this second wave is having less protection. This needs to be corrected immediately,' said Robinson.

'Premier Higgs do the right thing and tell your health authorities to stop nickel-and-diming people. Health and safety must come first!' concluded Robinson.