Premier Moe and Minister Morgan,
I am writing to you today to bring to your attention the urgent need for COVID-19 updates to be provided to the public on a regular basis, as well as several other urgent and necessary actions that the provincial government must take so that workers both be kept safe at work as well as know about the risks they face in their workplace due to COVID-19.
Workers in Saskatchewan have three basic rights- and the ability to exercise them- protected under The Saskatchewan Employment Act. (SEA Act, Part III, Divisions 3, 4 & 5):
• The right to know the hazards at work and how to control them;
• The right to participate in finding and controlling workplace hazards, and
• The right to refuse work that you believe is unusually dangerous.
These rights mean that employers have a responsibility under law in Saskatchewan to provide workers with a safe workplace. This includes providing the information workers need so that they can properly understand and assess the risk of contracting COVID 19 in their workplace. The current situation where data is only reported by the province weekly makes this impossible. Workers’ rights in Saskatchewan exist to protect workers, and the government’s decision to not regularly report COVID-19 case numbers undermines and potentially even violates this legislation.
Along with reinstating regular COVID-19 updates, we also urge you to take the following actions to keep workers safe:
- Legislate paid sick time for all workers. This will ensure that workers in Saskatchewan who currently don’t have access to paid sick time will not have to make the choice between either not being paid or going to work sick.
- Ensure access to proper Personal Protective Equipment. This includes providing proper medical-grade masks needed to keep workers safe while at work.
- Ensure safe staffing levels. All workplaces, including healthcare, education and public services- need proper safe staffing levels. This needs to be funded publicly and under the current agreements.
Workers have been on the frontlines every day in Saskatchewan, putting themselves and their families at risk from day one of the pandemic. Our provincial government must recognize this and put the above necessary protections in place to keep workers and the people of our province safe.
We urge you to reconsider the decision not to post regular COVID-19 updates. Without proper public reporting of this information, it is impossible for workers to be aware of workplace outbreaks and assess the risks they face due to COVID 19, which is still raging in our province. We also urge you to take the following actions listed above to ensure that workers in the province are kept safe while at work.
I hope that you will reconsider your position on these important issues. It is my hope that, by taking these steps, we can reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in the province and finally beat this virus once and for all.
I am available if you wish to discuss further.
Saskatchewan Federation of Labour