Essential workers currently competing with all phase two qualifiers for limited vaccine supply, putting themselves and community at risk.
Richmond Hill, Ontario — Many homecare workers, usually personal support workers or nurses who go from home to home to assist those who need daily care, in the Algoma Public Health Unit are still waiting to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine due to being grouped in with a large population that qualifies for vaccines under the province’s “Phase Two”.
Frontline workers from homecare agencies such as CBI Home Health are fearing for their safety, and the safety of their families and clients, as they continue to work without their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Advised to use the online booking system, these workers are competing with any local resident over the age of 60, those with high-risk conditions, faith leaders, and many others for what is being described as a very limited vaccine supply in the area.
SEIU Healthcare, a union representing over 60,000 frontline healthcare workers in Ontario, is calling for these homecare workers to be immediately vaccinated to avoid the potential of a devastating spread.
“These homecare workers are in desperate need of the COVID-19 vaccine,” said SEIU Healthcare President Sharleen Stewart. “Each day, they are visiting multiple different personal residences and caring for multiple different clients, not knowing who that client has come in contact with or where they’ve been. One homecare worker infected with COVID-19 could result in a devastating spread. We are urging Algoma Public Health to immediately prioritize these workers to get vaccinated. It’s unacceptable we are almost in May without this being done.”
“Many of my colleagues go to work terrified each day because they haven’t had their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, let alone their second,” said Tiina Niemi, a homecare worker for CBI and the chief union steward for the workplace. “Every morning that vaccines are available, which isn’t very often, these workers are going online to book their appointments, but with so many people from the general population eligible, and so few vaccines available, many of our workers still haven’t been able to secure an appointment. It’s very hard to go to work each day knowing you could get the virus and pass it on to your family or your many clients. We need vaccines and we need them now.”
SEIU Healthcare represents more than 60,000 healthcare and community service workers across Ontario. The union’s members work in hospitals, homecare, nursing and retirement homes, and community services throughout the province. www.seiuhealthcare.ca