AHS, Covenant Health, and three major health care unions including UNA agree to joint statement on Personal Protective Equipment use during COVID-19 pandemic

Along with UNA, Alberta Health Services, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, Covenant Health, and the Health Sciences Association of Alberta have reached a joint agreement on the safe and effective use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in our collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A joint news release and copy of the joint statement were sent to media today.

The release states in part that “employers and unions share the common goal of protecting the health and safety of health care workers.

It acknowledges that “during the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that the appropriate steps are taken to protect the health and safety of all health care workers while they provide high quality care to Albertans and prevent exposure to and transmission of COVID-19.” It also states that “it is critical to ensure that appropriate PPE is used by all staff and physicians, while also preserving supplies of specialized equipment for when they are required to provide care safely.”

Under the joint agreement, the parties agreed that a risk assessment must be conducted for every patient interaction to ensure front-line health care workers have the specific PPE they need. “As partners in the response to COVID-19, we trust our front-line health care teams to make appropriate and clinically sound decisions,” the agreement states.

The joint agreement also includes a commitment by all parties to assess the available supply of PPEs on an ongoing basis. The employers commit to continue to explore all available avenues to obtain and maintain a sufficient supply.

In the event the supply of PPEs reaches a point where current supplies are anticipated to last for only 30 days or where utilization rates indicate that a shortage will occur, “the employers will be responsible for developing contingency plans in consultation with the unions and applicable Joint Worksite Health and Safety Committees to ensure the safety of health care workers,” the agreement says.

UNA acknowledges the work AUPE and HSAA in securing this important agreement, and thanks the leaders and members of these health care unions for their leadership in this initiative and their hard work and courage on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.  

UNA also thanks Alberta Health Services and Covenant Health for their willingness to quickly reach this agreement.

The employers have confirmed there are adequate supplies of PPE and that access should not be an issue at the worksite.