Ottawa, March 17, 2020 - As the financial impact of COVID-19 forces many Canadians into Service Canada offices to apply for Employment Insurance (EI) and other critical services, we are urging the government to take immediate steps to safeguard the health & safety of their employees and the public they serve.
“As Service Canada employees provide front line services every day, not only is their risk of exposure higher, but the risk of exposing Canadians accessing those services also increases. In order to protect our members and the general public we are asking that the Government of Canada implement immediate screening measures at all service points that must remain open,” said Eddy Bourque, National President of the Canada Employment and Immigration Union (CEIU).
Current screening practices at Service Canada offices are either non-existent or woefully inadequate,” added Bourque. “In some cases, measures being implemented are exposing staff to even greater risk rather than reducing it.”
While we applaud the measures that are being implemented to improve access to Employment Insurance and restrict international travel, we are concerned that our union was not meaningfully consulted on the impacts on working conditions, including health and safety impacts.
We are now calling on the Government of Canada to protect the health and safety of our members, and by extension all Canadians, by restricting service hours in locations where possible and providing screening and safety measures for front-line workers. This includes ensuring that client triage is completed by licenced health professionals, proper cleaning and disinfecting supplies are provided, and that the number of clients allowed in the offices at any given time are limited.
“The government needs to act urgently. Our members are committed to providing these critical services to Canadians, but asking them to remain at a heightened risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to a lack of proactive measures is unacceptable.” said Crystal Warner, National Executive Vice-President of the Canada Employment and Immigration Union (CEIU).
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