When we act together in solidarity, there’s almost nothing we can’t achieve. It’s a fact that’s never been more evident than it is today. This is a time to reflect on the importance of solidarity, and the power of collective action for the good of all.
Nurses are workers with hard-fought workplace rights that we’ve won through coordinated effort and mutual advocacy. WorkSafeBC’s August announcement of presumptive coverage for nurses who contract COVID-19 at work is the most recent win, and a demonstration of the power of unions.
The announcement followed the passing of Bill 23, which includes amendments to the
Workers Compensation Act that now make it easier for workers to receive compensation if injured from exposure to COVID-19.
The changes show what empowered nurses can achieve. They happened as a result of BCNU’s strong member advocacy at the WorkSafeBC Board and getting the public behind our Support BC's Nurses campaign in early June, which encouraged British Columbians to email their MLA to demand that all nurses who are exposed or test positive for COVID-19 are compensated immediately.
BCNU’s commitment to our members’ occupational health and safety is unwavering. We will continue to advocate for safe working conditions and educate all members about their workplace rights in the face of the ongoing challenges the pandemic brings.
Member surveys conducted over the last few months have exposed the extent to which the ongoing lack of unfettered access to personal protective equipment (PPE) has impacted nurses. The statistics collected from our internal “COVID-19 in the Workplace” survey – which gathered experiences from over 3,000 nurses – were troubling. Approximately 54 percent of members working in acute, long-term care and the community reported shortages of PPE at their worksites, and the majority of those surveyed – 77 percent – said they believe current PPE restrictions are based on supply rather than science.
And for the first time ever, a recent study conducted by BCNU and University of British Columbia researchers looked at how COVID-19 has impacted the mental health of BC’s nurses. The results show firsthand the psychological strain that so many of you are under as you work through this public health crisis while juggling professional responsibilities and making personal sacrifices.
I truly appreciate the time members have taken to participate in these surveys. Public health and physical distancing measures that restrict worksite visits mean they are more important than ever as a tool that allows you to provide your feedback. From PPE to mental health, research surveys provide us with the critical information required to advocate for all nurses and bring your voice to policy makers, health employers and government.
Christine SorensenPresident, BC Nurses' Union
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