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OPSEU’s Thomas to Ford: The time for clear, decisive and strong action on this pandemic is now

March 20, 2020

TORONTO – OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is calling on Premier Doug Ford to act immediately and decisively to ensure frontline health care and emergency workers have the proper protective gear to shield them from COVID-19.

“Our frontline workers, including our emergency workers and health care workers, must have the proper Personal Protective Equipment, including N95 masks,” said Thomas. “If the government doesn’t have the inventory to fully equip our frontline workers, it must come clean and admit it right now. If that is the case, the Premier needs to issue a directive to distribute the available equipment to the people who are at highest risk until supplies are ramped up.”

“We understand there is a high demand for masks and other protective gears, but frontline workers and the most vulnerable workers must have number one priority in getting this equipment.”

Thomas is also calling on the Premier to take further measures to stop the community spread of COVID-19, including strengthening the screening processes at hospital entrances and stopping all visitors to Ontario’s hospitals.

“If the Premier can lock down the province, he can lock down the hospitals. He needs to ban all outside visitors from our hospitals for the next two weeks of this crisis, with exceptions for families of children and palliative care patients. ” said Thomas.  “We need to do more to stop this community spread and protect the workers who are literally fighting for the lives of Ontarians. We need to have stricter screening and sanitization at the entrances and throughout our hospitals, and only allow outside visits in extreme, compassionate cases.”

“The safety of Ontario’s frontline and emergency workers must come first, it’s the only way we can stop the spread of this virus in its tracks.”

Thomas is also concerned that some health care workers who have recently travelled are being told by hospital management to cut corners on isolation procedures.

“We are also hearing there are rogue hospital administrators out there who are flouting the 14-day isolation period for frontline workers who have recently travelled,” said Thomas.  “The Premier must make it very clear to hospital CEOs that following isolation procedures on out of country travel is not a request, it’s an order.

Thomas is encouraged by the actions the Premier has taken to respond to this crisis, but insists that more must be done immediately to combat this pandemic.

“The Premier and Health Minister must act quickly and firmly to protect workers who are on the frontline of this pandemic. No more guidelines, no more recommendations, lives are at risk. The time to allow individual hospitals to interpret the rules is over.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas 613-329-1931