Workers feel abandoned by Government of Alberta
CALGARY – Poor planning, confusion and inconsistency are to blame for the worsening COVID-19 outbreak at the Calgary Correctional Centre, says the union representing workers inside the facility.
“It’s a horror story inside the facility,” says Bobby-Joe Borodey, vice-president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), which represents correctional officers and other workers, including health-care workers.
The number of infections at the facility has soared to nearly 120 inmates and staff since the outbreak was first reported on Oct. 22 with 24 cases.
“Our members are saying that inmates have only been wearing masks for a week,” says Borodey. “They were only given masks after the number of cases hit double figures.”
Staff have been wearing masks for only one month and were only instructed to start wearing full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) yesterday.
“There is no segregation or isolation of infected and uninfected inmates inside the correctional centre now. The entire facility is considered to be all COVID. Everybody is mingling,” she says.
“Before the outbreak reached these levels, new inmates with symptoms were sharing space with inmates without symptoms while they waited for test results. This seems to be a recipe for the disaster we are now seeing.”
Workers at the facility have been ordered to isolate at home, but still continue to come to work.
“They are considered too big a risk of spreading the virus to the public, but must continue to come to work where they risk catching and spreading COVID-19,” says Borodey.
“The employer has asked for volunteers from other facilities to come to work at the Calgary Correctional Centre, but we are hearing that those workers will not be asked to follow the same isolation order. This inconsistency is senseless. It’s a reflection of the chaos we have seen since Day One. Why haven’t the same practices and protocols we see in hospitals been applied here?”
Borodey adds: “These workers are exhausted. They are working all kinds of extra hours filling in for colleagues who are sick or isolating and unable to come to work. Many are losing thousands of dollars when they isolate because they have used up all their sick time. They are feeling abandoned by their employer, the government of Alberta.”
Bobby-Joe Borodey is available for comment.
For more information, contact Terry Inigo-Jones, communications officer, 403-831-4394.