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Thomas requests PPE info, assurance from Health Minister

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas
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OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas has asked the Ford government for information about its current stock of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), along with assurances that it will have enough to protect workers during a second wave of COVID-19.

“Ontario mustn’t be caught again with an inadequate supply of PPE,” wrote Thomas in a letter to Health Minister Christine Elliott. “The people and frontline workers of this province deserve detailed assurance that your government will be able to provide all of the protective equipment that is needed in congregate front line settings.”

Here is the full text of Thomas’s letter:

July 24, 2020
Hon. Christine Elliott 
Deputy Premier and Minister of Health
777 Bay St., 5th Floor
Toronto, ON, M7A 2J3
Email: christine.elliott@pc.ola.org

Dear Minister Elliott,

I am writing to urgently request detailed information about the province’s current supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and your government’s plan to ensure it has enough PPE for all frontline health care and community service workers should we face a second wave of COVID-19.

Like most other places in the world, Ontario learned during the first wave that an inadequate supply of PPE puts the public – and especially the frontline workers providing health and community care – at needless risk.

Ontario mustn’t be caught again with an inadequate supply of PPE.

I know from my members that the dangerous shortages in March, April, and May have mostly abated. But there are still enough worrisome reports of shortages of gowns and N95 masks, and there remain concerns that a second wave will lead to more widespread shortages.

The people and frontline workers of this province deserve detailed assurance that your government will be able to provide all of the protective equipment that is needed in congregate front line settings.

As many of the members of my union – and of the general public – have noted, the threat of COVID-19 remains so high that your government has felt free to use Bill 195 to extend its extraordinary powers to override workers’ Constitutional bargaining rights in the name of preparation and flexibility.

I urge you to use those extraordinary powers responsibly and to ensure that some unscrupulous employers do not take advantage of current circumstances. A positive first step will be providing transparent information about the province’s current supply of PPE and your government’s plan to ensure the supply will always meet the demand, now and in the future.

I look forward to your prompt reply.

Sincerely,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union