Joint Statement: Keeping Health Care Workers Safe during the COVID-19 Pandemic 

The following is a joint statement issued today by the Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland & Labrador (RNU), the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and the Association of Allied Health Professionals (AAHP).

Our province’s health care workers are committed to providing the best and safest care possible to patients. Health care workers are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and we must keep them safe.

Labour organizations representing health care workers are calling for the Provincial Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Regional Health Authorities to protect health care workers and their patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this pandemic, protection of our most valuable resource – the human resource – is of paramount importance. With conflicting scientific evidence of how COVID-19 is transmitted, the precautionary principle – to err on the side of caution – must be followed.

Frontline health care workers caring for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients should be protected using appropriate fit-tested personal protective equipment. Protocols for personal protective equipment and precautionary measures across all health care settings, including community clinics,  must be implemented so health care workers can care for patients without the risk of infecting themselves or others. Employers must provide the necessary training and supports.

Our health care system is already running over capacity. We cannot afford for health care workers to get sick and erode staffing levels any further. Protecting health care workers so they can continue to provide safe and effective care is imperative.

We are calling for meaningful discussion with government and health authorities in decisions affecting members’ health and safety, including the provision of personal protective equipment.

As we have seen around the world, health care workers will put their own health at risk to help contain the spread of COVID-19. To keep patients safe, health care workers must be protected.

Debbie Forward – President, RNU
Jerry Earle – President, NAPE

Sherry Hillier, President, CUPE NL
Virginia Whitten – President, AAHP