Covid-19 Member Update March 31, 2020
PCAM has continued to have regular discussions with senior provincial leadership regarding support for our members. As stated previously, we are drafting an agreement to allow increased flexibility for support to provincial health care operations while ensuring support and protection for us. This agreement is yet to be forwarded to us from the province, but we will send it to you when it comes. Most of you have seen similar agreements from other health care professionals in different unions. Our agreement will look similar with subtle differences. Contracts of supervision must be in place with appropriate departments prior to assistants moving to different areas. Orientation to new areas also must be done to ensure that we are functional in these areas.
Discussions with other health care unions have brought issues to the province regarding paid leave status, availability of PPE, right to refuse work, workers compensation, availability of provincial childcare and guidance for pregnant assistants.
Paid Leave Status:
Quarantine: Current direction continues to be utilization of sick time for any quarantine followed by using existing paid banks (vacation, stat, OT). If all banks are exhausted, unpaid leave of absences will be granted where members are able to use employment insurance benefits. All unions are in discussion with the province to look at funding and replenishing banks for all employees who are using any banked time for quarantine, so that they will have paid time off when the dust settles. These are ongoing discussions.
Lack of Child Care: If members are not able to secure childcare options, you are to follow previous directions listed on our website and notify your management team. You are able to use your paid bank options and if necessary, take unpaid leave of absence to utilize employment insurance.
Availability of PPE:
The province is receiving a shipment of PPE this week from the federal government and will be distributing to all heath care facilities. Estimates are inaccurate regarding the amount of PPE supply available, however, prior to the shipment this week, they were estimating 8-week supply on hand.
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ALERT PCAM IF YOU ARE IN AN AREA WHERE YOU CURRENTLY DO NOT HAVE ADEQUATE PPE TO DO YOUR JOB SAFELY.
We will support members who are placed in situations with inadequate PPE who wish to HALT patient encounters until adequate PPE is provided.
If you have symptoms or believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 through patient encounter or infected staff, alert your manager and call WCB 204-954-4321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The province has released a document (attached) providing guidance for members who are pregnant. Although the provincial approach is to refer to an accommodation document, we would advise members to speak with their medical directors. PCAM has been in discussion with a number of departments who have all been supportive in accommodating member requests. You should not be put in a position where you are having COVID patients encounters against your wishes. If this is happening, you need to alert PCAM as soon as possible so that we may have discussions with your management team.
Click here for COVID-19 Provincial Guidance for Pregnant Health Care Workers
Redeployment and altered schedules:
Members are currently being redeployed to areas of need and having schedules changed (in some cases 24-hour coverage). Until our provincial memo is signed, redeployment can only happen within your health care region. You must ensure that you have adequate contracts of supervision with all new attendings, a job description and that you have received the appropriate orientation to your area. If you feel that your being moved to an area that you are completely not professionally suited for, please alert us.
The employer can alter your schedule with 2 weeks-notice provided they alert PCAM to these changes. Any immediate changes can be done resulting in overtime for the two-week period. Addition of call also needs to be brought to PCAMs attentions. Hours of work continue to be 80 and 100 hours biweekly and will continue to be adhered to. If the employer works past those respective hours, you will qualify for overtime. You may notice that your daily hours may also adjust. Some members are being increased to 10, 12 and 16 hour shifts and working 24/7 schedules. If you have concerns with these schedules, please bring them to our attention so that we may have discussions with management regarding your concerns.
The PCAM executive are all full time Physician or Clinical Assistants working for WRHA while volunteering time with PCAM. As such, we are dealing with all the concerns that most of you are experiencing daily. There has been discussion regarding advocating for Hazard Pay for front line providers coming from a number of different areas. While we understand the risk placed on all of us during this unprecedented time, there is no avenue that PCAM can take to secure this. Premiums such as this would need to be negotiate during collective bargaining. All provincial and PCAM resources are being place into fighting COVID-19 and as such no collective bargaining will be taking place until this resolves. I would also like to put forward that no other union, including Doctors Manitoba, has brought hazard pay up in recent discussions as a item or priority. Currently there are no unions within Manitoba Health Regions that contain hazard pay in their respective CBAs. As employees, the executive understands that all members are at increased risk and PCAM will do what we can to ensure that your safety is a priority to the employer.
We are all doing the best we can during these uncertain times. We know that anxiety and fear have become routine in our daily practice. Please keep up the emails and forward concerns to us as they arise. We will continue to do our best to support all of us to ensure we all come through COVID-19 safely.