The BC Nurses' Union is calling on the provincial government to ensure that any nurse who becomes ill from exposure to COVID-19 is compensated through WorkSafeBC (WSBC)'s presumptive coverage, and that their illness is recognized as an occupational disease.
As of June 8, 136 nurses have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and account for just over 20% of coronavirus cases among health care workers in BC.
Please take a few minutes to check out the current Support BC's Nurses campaign, encouraging members of the public to write their MLA and ask that they ensure the immediate inclusion of COVID-19 to the list of occupational diseases that are presumed to have been contracted in the workplace. The campaign webpage also features our latest television ad, as well as other facts and information on the cause.
This call to action follows the letter sent directly to provincial labour minister Harry Bains on May 26, ahead of a planned public consultation process that took place June 1 – 12, led by WSBC, that focused on the issue of adding a presumption for infections caused by communicable viral pathogens, including COVID-19. In the letter, BCNU President Christine Sorensen has expressed her concerns over the potential for bureaucratic delays which would prevent a timely response to claims amid the acuteness of the COVID-19 pandemic situation.
BCNU has provided a direct submission to the WSBC board to assist in the consultation process. It is BCNU's position that the current health-care work environment places nurses at an increased risk for COVID-19 infection as an occupational disease. Furthermore, it argues that the risk of a working nurse contracting the COVID-19 virus is significantly greater than the ordinary exposure risk for the public at large.
The consultation wrapped up June 12; the board is expected to decide whether to proceed in July.
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