President’s Annual Message to Members
Year in Review – 2021
2021 saw the worldwide Covid-19 Pandemic continue with the third wave and the onset of the fourth wave, affecting our work as a Union and as health care professionals. With the roll out of the vaccination program in late 2020, HSAS focused on advocating for our Members’ access to vaccines in the earliest stages of the vaccine rollout. Meetings and correspondence with Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) representatives, Ministry officials, and the Minister of Health, continued throughout the year, offering our input and strong advocacy for our Members.
Through 2021, HSAS continued its work in dealing with the effects of the Pandemic on our membership. This included addressing issues arising from the Letter of Understanding (LOU) agreed to in April of 2020 which pertained to the re-deployment of our Members to various jobs associated with the Pandemic, such as contract tracing and investigation. In many parts of the province, managers did not follow the terms of the LOU as had been agreed to by the parties and over the months this resulted in a significant number of grievances filed by HSAS.
HSAS Members felt significant stress through redeployment and many had no desire to be re-deployed again during the fourth wave, which commenced in the later summer of 2021. The pandemic has had a negative effect on health care services whether acute care, long term care, emergency or community – from the cancellation of surgeries to therapies to addictions and mental health programming; affecting all age groups and all concerned. There was a lack of consistent messaging and delivery of services across the province – some areas of the province saw services maintained, yet other areas of the province (or even within a city) experienced a shutdown of services. Members are feeling burned out, overworked and understaffed. Members are feeling unappreciated for the work they do, and many are experiencing a lack of empathy and support from their management. Disrespect is a word heard often.
Results of the recent Health Care Worker survey conducted by Dr. Sean Tucker of the University of Regina, highlighted results indicating that an increased number of health care professionals are either wanting to retire, change professions, or intending to reduce their hours of work because of the ongoing stresses. Follow through on these intentions would create further stress in an already stressed health care system and add to mounting workloads.
We encourage Members to contact [email protected] with their issues and concerns.
A new bylaw was passed by the Delegates at the 2021 AGM held in October. The rationale for the addition of the bylaw arose in part from the Saskatchewan Employment Act (SEA), which outlines the responsibilities unions have in electing members to Occupational Health Committees (OHC), and the requirement for union representation on those committees. With an increasing number of issues relating to safety occurring at workplaces, both during the initial stages of the pandemic, and in the months since, Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) at the worksites became an increasing priority for HSAS. The bylaw addresses appointment process of HSAS Members to workplace Occupational Health Committees (OHC).
Members are encouraged to step forward to serve on their local workplace OH&S Committee. It is critical for the HSAS perspective to be present on these committees to provide input and ensure that safety issues in the workplace are identified and addressed.
Additional amendments to the bylaws were passed by the Delegates at the AGM. These included revisions to the balloting processes for elections. Electronic balloting and other approved ballot procedures will be options to the traditional mail-ballot paper method. Where electronic balloting is chosen as the method for voting by the Membership, mail in balloting will still be an option for those who cannot use electronic balloting because of lack of technology available or limited to no access to the internet. The Constitution and Bylaws can be found under Governance at hsas.ca.
As 2021 draws to a close, I want to wish you all the best during this holiday season, and for the coming year. Enjoy your time with your family and friends in a safe manner. Take time for yourself and take care of yourself.