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OPSEU demands action for Canadian Blood Services workers who aren’t getting COVID-19 protections

Toronto – As Canadian Blood Services (CBS) urges Canadians to continue donating blood during the pandemic, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is demanding that the organization give its workers the same protections as most other health care workers.

“It’s irresponsible. Not only is CBS ignoring our demands for the bare-minimum Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), it’s actively stopping our members from taking reasonable steps to protect themselves,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

Thomas said CBS management has been ignoring OPSEU’s demands that all of its 700 members at CBS be issued masks and gloves. Thomas also said CBS is ignoring demands for plexiglass barriers and more active screening that includes temperature checks.

“Our members at CBS are working through this pandemic because they know cancer patients, pregnant women, trauma victims, and everybody else who needs blood and plasma are counting on them,” said Thomas. “But like so many other public sector workers these days, they’re putting themselves at risk. We’re demanding that their employer stop putting them and their families in danger, and start providing them with the personal protective equipment that they so clearly need.”

Thomas said that some CBS workers are even being told to remove PPE that they’ve brought from home.

“Our members take their responsibility to protect Canada’s blood supply very seriously,” said Geoff Cain, the chair of OPSEU’s CBS and Diagnostics Sector. “We’re putting ourselves at risk every day – all we ask in return is the same kinds of protections that most other health care workers are getting.”

OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida said it’s time for CBS CEO Dr. Graham Sher and other senior executives to start taking their responsibilities seriously.

“The need for donated blood and plasma goes on – we get it,” said Almeida. “But so does the need to stop the spread of this virus. The bosses at CBS need to take every step they can to make sure that it’s not being passed back and forth between donors and workers. The last thing we need right now is another crisis from our blood system.”

For more information:

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931