Short-sighted GOA pandemic policy puts workers and Albertans at risk
EDMONTON – Petty-minded bureaucrats in management at the Government of Alberta (GOA) are putting workers and the public at risk with COVID-19 rules that make no sense, says the Alberta Union or Provincial Employees (AUPE).
“Management is forcing unvaccinated employees who work from home and have zero interaction with the public to leave their home every three days to get Covid-19 tests at a private laboratory, pharmacy or medical-services centre,” says Susan Slade, vice-president of AUPE, which represents 95,000 workers in Alberta, including 22,000 directly employed by the government.
“At a time when all Albertans should be limiting their exposure to the highly contagious Omicron variant, the government is forcing these workers to go out and get tested for no reason,” she says. “This irrational implementation of policy is increasing risk for those workers, their families and all Albertans rather than decreasing it. It’s hard to understand that they are thinking.”
The GOA policy requires these workers to get a negative PCR (molecular polymerase chain reaction) or a Health Canada approved rapid antigen or rapid PCR test result date stamped within 72 hours of every scheduled work day/shift. At-home rapid-antigen tests are not accepted.
GOA workers have reported that there has been a scarcity of tests, meaning they have to spend a lot of time finding a location that can offer them. Some private suppliers are charging $75 for a rapid-antigen test, $125 for a PCR test and $255 for a rapid PCR test.
“Not only are workers and others being put at risk, but these workers face losing hundreds of dollars a week. These tests are mandated by the employer and should be paid for by the employer,” says Slade.
“AUPE has encouraged members to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their co-workers, and their loved ones. But those who are not vaccinated should not be punished when they are following the rules set by the employer,” says AUPE exec.
“Frequent tests for members who work from home and have no contact with the public is a waste of time and resources and increases risk, rather than decreasing it,” says Slade.
AUPE VP Susan Slade is available for comment.
For more information, please contact communications officer Terry Inigo-Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 403-831-4394.