PSAC is pressing governments to prioritize vaccinations for critical front-line workers across Canada to limit the spread of COVID-19.
PSAC represents thousands of front-line workers doing critical work at Canada’s borders, in federal penitentiaries, day shelters and group homes, community parole officers, firefighters, Coast Guard staff and employees on military bases, meat-packing plant workers, food inspectors and many more.
Their close contact with the public and other employees while performing their work puts them at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and contributing to outbreaks in their communities. That’s why it’s crucial that all provinces and territories provide access to vaccinations for front-line essential workers as soon as possible, as per Stage 2 of the Government of Canada’s vaccine schedule.
“The federal government has an obligation to safeguard the health and safety of all its employees during the pandemic,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC national president. “Federal ministers must step in and mandate provinces and territories to accelerate vaccinations for front-line essential workers as soon as possible, as recommended in the federal government’s own vaccination schedule.”
PSAC and components, including the Customs and Immigration Union and the Union of Safety and Justice Employees, have been lobbying both the federal and provincial governments, including Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, to prioritize vaccinations for our members.
“Canada Border Services Agency personnel have continued to perform critical work despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jean-Pierre Fortin, CIU national president, representing more than 11,000 CBSA officers and workers across the country. “With a third wave now well underway and the growing threat of COVID variants, it’s imperative for frontline Border Services officers to be prioritized for vaccinations equally across the country, alongside other first responders and law enforcement personnel.”
Some provinces have prioritized vaccinations for front-line workers early on, while others still refuse to consider many front-line workers essential under their vaccination plans, creating a patchwork system that puts workers and the Canadians they serve at risk. Two workers, doing the same job and facing the same risk of exposure to COVID-19, could be vaccinated months apart under the current provincial arrangement.
“By not quickly moving to vaccinate all front-line staff who work day in and day out with federal offenders, we put thousands of Canadians and employees at continued high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks,” said Stan Stapleton, national president of the Union of Safety and Justice Employees representing all federal employees working in rehabilitative, parole, maintenance, food service and related support roles in federal minimum, medium and maximum security penitentiaries, as well as Community Correctional Centres and parole offices across Canada.
PSAC will continue to pressure the federal government to work collaboratively with provincial public health authorities and ensure all front-line workers are equally prioritized as part of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
The original version of this article was first posted on the PSAC website.