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National Medical Laboratory Week: Celebrating the highly skilled heroes in our public labs

April 11-17 marks National Medical Laboratory Week. As we face this third wave of COVID-19, there could not be a more fitting time to celebrate our dedicated, highly skilled medical laboratory professionals.

OPSEU/SEFPO represents thousands of Medical Laboratory Technologists (MLTs) and Medical Laboratory Assistants (MLAs) on the frontlines in our hospitals, Public Health Ontario and Canadian Blood Services labs. They collect and analyze tissue, blood, and bodily fluid samples from patients to diagnose every health condition from cancer to COVID-19. The analysis, testing and experiments they do are key to quality patient care in Ontario.

During this pandemic, these front-line heroes have processed millions of COVID-19 tests. They have been facing serious burnout as a result of working long, seemingly endless, days. They’ve endured high levels of anxiety from working directly with COVID virus samples, and their vacation and time-off requests are often denied because of the high demand for testing. All the while, the government has been turning to private options to fill their unrealistic testing quotas, which ultimately pose threats to public safety and working conditions.

Many of the province’s MLTs have delayed their retirement due to the pandemic, making great sacrifices to be there for Ontarians during this critical time. Unfortunately, once they do take their well-deserved retirement, there will be a significant gap in this field. Many that remain are primarily part-time or casual workers, and there aren’t enough graduates and students currently in the field to fill the vacant positions.

We could not get through this pandemic without our medical laboratory professionals. The work they do is directly responsible for saving lives and improving the quality of life for every patient they treat. Their contributions to our health care system are invaluable, and they deserve to be recognized for the vital role they play in supporting quality care for Ontarians.

Thank you to all of our medical laboratory professionals for your commitment, dedication, passion, and expertise. We are so proud of you and stand with you in these difficult times. We will fight tirelessly to overcome every challenge ahead.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU/SEFPO President

Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer