March 6, 2020
Dear Minister Holder,
We are all watching the continued spread globally and in Canada of the corona virus, COVID-19. I am aware that our government is working on contingency plans to deal with a potential outbreak in New Brunswick. I am writing today to express the New Brunswick Federation of Labour’s (NBFL) insistence that labour be involved in the discussions around the potential impact on workers.
At the NBFL, we are starting to hear workers expressing concerns. Workers in both the private and public sectors. The questions that we are hearing include:
-Will I get paid if my workplace is forced to close or if I am forced into a mandatory or self quarantine?
-How will I pay my bills if I can not go to work?
-What happens if schools start to close due to an outbreak?
I am sure that your government is thinking about all of these of questions and more. I would advise you to involve workers in the discussions. Labour needs to be involved.
As you know, many workers live pay cheque to pay cheque and if they show symptoms, many will have some difficult choices to make around self isolation. We are hoping that we will not get to this point. We do nonetheless need a plan in place to deal with the possible consequences of a corona virus outbreak in New Brunswick.
Another area of concern is adequate equipment and training for workers. This must be provided by their employers. Workers need to be aware of the best practices and provided with proper training and equipment to continue to do their job safely in all sectors.
The NBFL believes that everyone is looking to the government to set the bar on these real concerns that workers may face.
Daniel Legere, President