Healthcare Labour Media release

Media release: Home care workers being denied appropriate PPE

Many of Nova Scotia’s home care workers are being denied appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), as the third wave of COVID-19 rages throughout the province.

The NSGEU represents approximately 1,800 home care workers who are employed by 14 different agencies throughout the province. These workers are reporting their requests to use N95 masks at all visits are being denied by their employers. Instead, they are being supplied with medical-grade masks and are encouraged to make them last as long as possible.

“We know the variant strains which are now present in our province are more contagious than the original virus,” says NSGEU President Jason MacLean. “It is simply irresponsible of the home care agencies and their funder – the government – to refuse to provide these workers with the best possible standard of PPE.”

Home care workers will visit up to eight different clients’ homes during a shift, and are often in very close contact with clients (lifting them out of bed, helping them shower, etc…), which means if they have the potential to spread this virus throughout a community very quickly.

“Government and these employers have had more than a year to source and purchase N95 masks and other PPE items. Is it that they haven’t managed to find these items, or they don’t think our home care workers are worthy of these protections?” MacLean asks.

The NSGEU is calling on Minister of Health and Wellness, Zack Churchill, to take urgent action to direct employers to provide N95 masks and fit-tests for all workers in frontline care scenarios, including in the home support sector, and direct them to use them in clients’ homes as they feel is necessary.

The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union represents over 31,000 workers who provide quality public services Nova Scotians count on every day.