Appropriate Accommodation Protocols Also Restored

Manitoba’s nurses have achieved a major victory by agreeing to a joint statement and Memorandum of Agreement with Shared Health regarding Personal Protective Equipment use and other important health and safety controls, MNU President Darlene Jackson announced today.
“For months, nurses have been voicing concern about inadequate PPE in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jackson. “Every nurse has a right to a safe workplace, and this agreement is a big step in the right direction following months of advocacy by nurses on this critical health and safety issue.”

MNU has been urging the Pallister government and Shared Health to follow the lead of several other provinces by reaching agreements with nurses and health care workers for the purpose of determining appropriate PPE use and supply monitoring policies. Following months of government refusals to collaborate, MNU took legal action towards an arbitrated settlement.

Prior to the scheduled arbitration hearing, Shared Health conceded on the key concerns MNU raised and agreed to the following (see below for links to the MOA and joint statement):
PPE ACCESS
Employer agrees to make an N95 resiprator available to all nurses that are providing care to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases with a N95 respirator, upon their request.
Implement the use of Point-of-Care Risk Assessments to allow nurses to determine the appropriate level of protection required in other situations.
Amend current PPE guidelines to eliminate unsafe 1-mask-per-shift policy, implement a two-mask-per-shift policy, and move toward a minimum of four surgical masks per shift (and more if supply and circumstances warrant it as determined by the PPE Committee).
PPE COMMITTEE
Establish a PPE committee with representatives from MNU and Shared Health to review a number of important issues, including appropriate and effective utililization of PPE; assess engineering and administerative health and safety controls; monitor PPE supply levels and procurement efforts; and review scientific evidence and technology related to COVID-19.
PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE
The settlement adheres to the precautionary principle as advocated for by the Manitoba Nurses Union (click here for a full description of the precautionary principle).
ACCOMMODATIONS
Rescinds guideline entitled “Guidance for Staff and Primary Care Providers Related to Health Care Workers with Underlying Medical Conditions and Potential Risk Factors for Severe COVID-19″ and other memos severely limiting workplace accommodations available for pregnant or immunocompromised health care workers.
Primary care providers will no longer have restrictions placed on the accommodations they recommend for their patients. Previously, nurses and other health care workers who required medical accommodations were being unfairly denied by their employer and Occupational and Environmental Safety & Health (OESH).
Restores privacy protections limiting the need for nurses who require accommodation to produce additional medical information.
The MOA and joint statement are tied to the resolution of nine grievances filed against Shared Health at Health Sciences Centre. Although the agreement technically applies to nurses, the win should pave the way for similar gains for other health care workers.

“This settlement was reached because our position was indisputably grounded in fact, and was focused on protecting the health and safety of nurses and patients,” added Jackson. “We are hopeful this agreement will convince the Pallister government and Shared Health officials to take a more collaborative approach to policy making on PPE and other issues affecting our members, patients and health care system.”

MNU represents over 12,000 nurses of all designations from across Manitoba.

Dear members,

Today, I am proud to announce a major victory in our fight to protect nurses and patients from the spread of COVID-19.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of our members, local leaders and staff, we have signed a Memorandum of Agreement and issued a Joint Statement with Shared Health on a number of important issues involving PPE use and other important health and safety controls. Highlights of the agreement are as follows:
• Nurses treating suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients will be provided with appropriate PPE, including access to a fit-tested N-95 mask upon request.

• The unsafe one-mask-per-shift policy is being rescinded by Shared Health. All nurses will be provided with a minimum of 2 surgical/procedure masks per 8-hour shift (or 3 per 12-hour shift) going forward, with a goal of increasing this allowance to a minimum of 4 masks (or more) as circumstances permit.

• Nurses will now be able to use their own professional and clinical judgement to determine whether a higher level of PPE is necessary to safely treat patients by employing Point-of-Care Risk Assessments (see the Joint Statement for specific details).

• Pregnant or immunocompromised nurses who require accommodations based on the professional advice of their primary care providers will have their rights restored. Previously, nurses and other health care workers who required medical accommodations were being unfairly denied by their employer and Occupational and Environmental Safety & Health (OESH).

• MNU representatives will sit on a joint PPE committee that will employ the Precautionary Principle in making recommendations on PPE use, monitoring PPE supply levels and procurement efforts, engaging in contingency planning, reviewing new evidence on the transmission of COVID-19 and emerging technology, discussing engineering and administrative controls, and monitoring COVID-19 exposure and cases among nurses.
For more details, we encourage nurses to read the following:
• MOA
• Joint Statement
• Media Release
It’s important to note that where the PPE committee is unable to reach consensus, MNU will have the ability to refer the matter to arbitration. In other words, we have a new, strong avenue to hold the employer to account on health and safety issues related to COVID-19.

With these gains, nurses and patients will be better protected at work. These gains should translate into similar health and safety protections for all health care workers in Manitoba.

This progress would never have been made without the commitment of nurses to push this issue. I want to thank the nurses who signed their names to grievances and helped drive our cause forward.

I also want to thank the thousands of nurses who sent letters to our elected leaders demanding better health and safety standards. Everyone who took action helped amplify this issue in the eyes of government and the public.

MNU will closely monitor the implementation of these policy changes, and will continue to advocate on this issue. If you notice your employer is not adopting these new policies at work, please contact your Labour Relations Officer and local/worksite president.

Thank you for your continued support during these extraordinary times.

In solidarity,

Darlene Jackson
President
Manitoba Nurses Union

As you may be aware, many MNU members are now required to sign a declaration for COVID-19 self-screening, prior to reporting to work.  We are advising members that have yet to sign the self-assessment declaration to include the following note:

“I AM SIGNING THIS UNDER DURESS AND WITHOUT PREJUDICE TO MY RIGHTS UNDER THE COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT.”

MNU President Darlene Jackson issued the following media statement in response to the Pallister government’s Risk Recognition Program announcement.

“Despite what the Pallister government announced, the fact is the vast majority of Manitoba’s nurses are not included in the Risk Recognition Program. Nurses are listed as eligible, however the income thresholds set by government exclude nurses. Only a small number of LPNs will be eligible under their criteria, and only if they work significantly less than full time. All RNs, RPNs, NPs and all full-time nurses will be completely shut out.

From the outset, the Pallister government refused to define the purpose of the fund. After they were unable to reach consensus through meetings, the Pallister government essentially asked MNU and other stakeholders to vote on which groups of workers should be included. Pitting nurses against retail workers, truck drivers, and lower income workers in the midst of a pandemic is simply wrong. As caregivers and advocates, nurses would never want to be put in a position of taking away money from low-income frontline workers. We believe all frontline workers are deserving of
recognition and respect.

MNU engaged in the consultations, and offered clear, extensive feedback. We found the government to be unreceptive to our advice, and the process to be entirely inappropriate, and as a result, when it came to a vote, we refused to participate. No other province has put the administration of these federal dollars to a vote. Many other provincial governments, including BC, Ontario and Quebec, have offered reasonable hourly top-ups to nurses and other health care workers, and that’s exactly what MNU called for, as the fairest and most equitable means of acknowledging the
additional challenges nurses are facing. We first made this proposal to government with other health care unions over a month ago, and we raised it multiple times throughout this process. We also noted our objection to the term ‘Risk Recognition’ which implies nurses can be bought out for taking on added risk, and asked for a simple name change.

Unfortunately, the Pallister government refused to accept any of our key recommendations. Instead, they determined that they would employ a one-time payment with arbitrary thresholds that inevitably create exclusions and conflict. It’s entirely the wrong approach and we repeatedly warned against it. Unfortunately, to add insult to injury, they decided to exclude the vast majority of nurses while claiming otherwise. We won’t stand for this deception and we are asking government to issue clarification on eligibility immediately.

MNU believes nurses are deserving of recognition. Nurses in Manitoba have gone without a contract for three years, and a pay raise for four because the Pallister government refused to bargain and effectively froze their wages. Nurses were already feeling undervalued, and now the rollout of this plan will only add insult to injury. If this government was serious about recognizing nurses, they would have bargained a fair contract a long time ago, and listened to our reasonable proposals.

A Message To Fellow Nurses At HSC

We have been called Heroes and there have been parades of recognition.
Children want NURSE action figures!
The Pandemic has highlighted the work nurses do – the risks we take to provide care, the challenges of providing care in difficult circumstances.
Ultimately we are human beings doing our best in uncertain times and situations.
We ask only for respect, honesty, and recognition for the difficult work we do and the sacrifices we make to do it.
These are unusual circumstances and times. It isn’t a time for real celebrations, but it is the Year of the Nurse and Midwife as well as Nursing Week, so please recognize one another with a smile (under your mask) a kind word or gesture, perhaps a nod of understanding – but take a moment to know that the world is truly a better place because all of you are in it doing what you do.
Thanks for everything you do now and always!

In solidarity
Your Local 10 MNU President
Lana Penner

Following weeks of delay, the Pallister government today announced the terms of the new ‘Risk Recognition’ Program. Despite what was announced, it appears that the vast majority of Manitoba’s nurses will not be included in the program.

All nursing classifications are listed as eligible, however, the criteria and income thresholds set by the government exclude the vast majority of nurses. Only a small number of part-time LPNs appear to be eligible, and only if they work significantly less than full time. All RNs, RPNs, NPs, and all full-time nurses appear to be completely shut out.

In order for ease of process if a WCB claim is pursued, MNU is advising all members to document any and all direct interactions with patients that have been confirmed to be positive for Covid-19.
If you are confirmed to be positive for Covid-19, and believe you have been exposed in the course of your work as a nurse; and require time off from work or medical attention due to illness, you must report this to your employer and contact the WCB.

The WCB will need to confirm that you had direct contact with a patient that is/was positive for Covid-19, in the course of your work as a nurse. Therefore, documenting exposure will assist in the adjudication of the claim with the WCB. We encourage nurses to consider these guidelines where they may come into contact with COVID-19 patients, in order to ensure ease of process if a WCB claim pursued:

Wear personal protective equipment provided by the employer. However, if you feel necessary on reasonable basis, that the equipment is insufficient and poses a safety hazard, notify the employer immediately. If the situation is not resolved by the employer, workers may wish to consider exercising their rights under the workplace safety and health act. A link for additional information for unsafe work refusal can be found at the following link: https://www.safemanitoba.com/topics/Pages/Right-to-Refuse.aspx

If you make direct contact with a patient who tests positive for Covid-19, report to your manager, complete a RL6, and include the following details:

  • document the date of direct exposure
  • the department that you work in
  • the care you were providing to the patient
  • the personal protective equipment you were utilizing

If you miss time from work or seek medical attention, report to your manager and contact WCB to report the claim.

We hope this information is of assistance during this difficult time. If you have questions or concerns about your rights as an employee, please contact your MNU Labour Relations Officer or Union Representative for assistance.

As the health care system prepares for and responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, many steps are being taken to ensure adequate staffing levels in facilities across the province. This includes measures that are designed to an ensure effective response by allowing employers to redeploy staff to areas of highest need, and still respect the terms of the existing collective agreements and provide for additional compensation to affected staff as required.

Please be advised a Memorandum of Agreement has been reached regarding the redeployment of staff within or between employers. This agreement has been reached with multiple health care unions, including MNU. Click here to read a draft copy of the MOA.

Specifically, the MOA is intended to provide clarity to members regarding the terms of a temporary transfer situation. Please note the MOA is now in effect and will continue in the event a public health emergency or disaster is declared by the government. As per point two (2) of the MOA, members will be continued to be protected by the terms of their collective agreement and the MOA in the event of an emergency declaration.

The MOA ensures that all MNU members will be afforded financial protection and compensation for disruptions related to a temporary transfer. For example, affected staff will receive a work disruption allowance, including for situations where the change in commuting distance is less than 49 kilometres. Additional protections include guarantees for meals and accommodations as required, and reimbursement for mileage at a rate commensurate with the terms of the collective agreement. Please read the MOA for more information.

At this time, the provincial government continues to advise that the risk to Manitobans remains low, and significant redeployment has not yet occurred. However, this remains a rapidly changing situation, and therefore every measure must be taken to ensure employers and staff are prepared for redeployments as necessary.

On behalf of MNU, we thank you for your commitment to caring during this difficult time. The health care system needs you, and Manitobans are counting on us to be part of an effective response. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated, and the union representatives will be available to assist you as required.

MOA Redeployment of Staff (PDF)

Improving Care with Workload Staffing Reports

Have you used the workload staffing report? Watch the video below to learn more about the importance of WSRs for addressing workload issues and improving patient care.

Posted by Manitoba Nurses Union on Wednesday, November 7, 2018


MNU Local 10 Executive will be delivering the new forms to all Units. If you do not receive yours, or you require more, please contact the Local 10 office at 204-783-4338. If required, Educational sessions can be arranged for on the Units by calling the Local 10 office at 204-783-4338.