Unions call for investigation and correction of high COVID-19 infection rates among Covenant Health employees

High COVID-19 infection rates among health care workers employed by Covenant Health must be investigated and immediate and long-term solutions must be implemented, states a letter from three health care unions including United Nurses of Alberta to Covenant CEO Patrick Dumelie. 

The December 2 letter from UNA, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and the Health Sciences Association of Alberta says that 52 per cent of Covenant Health employees who have a confirmed case of COVID-19, 163 out of 315 cases, contracted the disease within the workplace.

In comparison, the occupational infection rate for Alberta Health Services and Alberta Precision Laboratories combined is approximately 8 per cent — 112 out of 1,477 cases.

“A difference of this magnitude must be explained and addressed,” the letter stated.

“Covenant Health has failed to adequately address the hazard of occupational cases of COVID-19,” the letter also stated, asking for three immediate responses by Covenant: 

  • Engage a health and safety firm with appropriate expertise to conduct an investigation of occupational exposures at Covenant facilities
  • Consult exposed workers, other front-line staff and Joint Workplace Health and Safety Committee members for recommendations to prevent workplace exposures
  • Produce a report with comprehensive recommendations and share it with health and safety committee members

“This letter is not intended to be critical of any individual leader within the organization” the letter concludes. “However, this rate of occupational infections cannot continue, and we must identify both why this rate is so high, as well as immediate and long-term solutions to bring the occupational infection rate to the lowest amount achievable."