Joint Satement: Unions call for Adequate Protections for Workers as the World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a Pandemic.

March 20, 2020


The PEI Union of Public Sector Employees, the PEI Nurses Union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the International Union of Operating Engineers are calling on the Government of Prince Edward Island to uphold the precautionary principle when it comes to providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers and all members who may be at risk.

The precautionary principle, as outlined by Justice Campbell following the SARS crisis in 2003, says that in the absence of scientific certainty we must err on the side of caution and protect workers. Two nurses and a physician were among the casualties of SARS, and many other health care workers were infected. No parties in the health system wish to see that again.

At this time we lack scientific certainty regarding the transmission method of COVID-19. We know that transmission via touch is likely the primary means, but several studies, and several infectious disease experts warn that airborne transmission can also occur. In light of this, and respecting the precautionary principle, we must ensure that workers testing and providing care for potential COVID-19 cases are provided with fit -tested approved N95 respirators. The N95 respirator is designed to protect against 95% of airborne particulates and is the
accepted baseline protection against airborne pathogens.

The priority of healthcare workers is ensuring safety and providing quality care for Islanders throughout our healthcare system. This care can only be provided if we put
appropriate measures in place to protect our workers. We need the protection of health care workers to be a priority.



For more information please contact:
Mona O’Shea, President, PEI Nurses Union (902-892-7152); Leonard Gallant, President, CUPE, PEI Division (902-315-0525); Tracy Robertson, President, International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 942 (902-566-3255) and Karen Jackson, President, UPSE (902-393-9925).