Several provinces have made decisions about which stores, restaurants and offices will reopen. They are putting various security measures in place, but do you think it’s enough to protect Canadians from this virus?
It all depends on the age of the people concerned. According to an article in CityNews, More than 90% of Canadian deaths from coronavirus are those over age 60 of the COVID-19 victims. The precautions we’re taking are mainly for them. We need to be especially concerned about the elderly, because they are the parents, grandparents and great-grandparents of someone, somewhere. Perhaps you’ve read some of the testimonials from nurses – horror stories about residential and long-term care centres (CHSLD) – that have been circulating in Quebec. These nurses have gone through hell. One woman, after spending a weekend volunteering at a CHSLD, described a typical day there. Frankly, summarizing her story here would be a crime, as it offers such a powerful perspective on the catastrophic state of affairs in residential and long-term care centres.
“Does anyone knows what’s going on? Is anyone in charge here? They’re doing their best, but there are just too many fires to put out,” says Marie-Michelle Funk in her Facebook message. (French only)
As Kyprianos Theocharides (Naki), a retired Health and Safety professional and former UCTE member, told us in an interview, “The more we learn about the subject, the more we can do to help.” This applies to everyone. If you pay close attention to everything that’s happening around you, you can continue to help with the deconfinement. “You must wear a mask and continue to wash your hands as often as possible,” he says.
After more than 30 years working in the health and safety field, Naki will return to work to help Canada in this pandemic. Caring about the health and safety of Canadians is his passion. He has been offered a position to help mitigate the risk of infection in a workplace. He reminds us that:
Health and safety don’t stop after work. Think about your family and other people’s families. We need to protect them and eliminate this virus together. We have to be concerned about health at home, too.
As shown in the illustration below, social distancing must continue to be maintained.
Source: Signer Laboratory
In particular, we have to pay attention to others, as mentioned earlier.
Many workplaces will do their best to counter the risks related to the transmission of the virus, but like us, they don’t know all the limitations that need to be put in place. As workers, we have a responsibility to talk openly about it. As our Occupational Health and Safety Specialist says, it’s possible that not all employers are aware of all the hazards in workplaces. That’s why you need to communicate your concerns. The employer has a responsibility to create a safe and healthy workplace.
Some will have no choice but to return to the office and get on with their work. If you’re able to work from home, we strongly encourage you to do so until the Public Health authorities say it’s safe to return. Less contact with the outside world will flatten the curve even more in Canada. If we keep working together and thinking about each other, maybe we’ll get some good news, as have Newfoundland, Labrador and Prince Edward Island: no new cases in several weeks.
Naki has a few recommendations about returning to work:
- More communication is needed between employees and employers to discuss the virus (risk of transmission, cleanliness, etc.).
- Put a program in place, in accordance with the guidelines of Health Canada and other health specialists, to inform and educate employees and employers about how not to transmit the virus.
- Look into other means of protection than just masks and consider using visors and disinfectants, as well as increasing the distance between desks, disinfecting work surfaces, etc.
These measures must be taken seriously and need to be implemented now. As our worlds begin to open up a little more, there are many factors that must be taken into consideration when creating the new normal work routine. The most important things are: follow all public health recommendations; raise your health and safety concerns with your employer; and if you feel you’re not being heard, contact your union for support.