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Coronavirus: Co-op Refinery continues operations with replacement workers

Unifor National President Jerry Dias is calling on Preimer Scott Moe to address concerns of social distancing between replacement workers at the Co-op Refinery Complex. Michael Bell / The Canadian Press

Unifor has called for the shutdown of the replacement worker camp at the Regina, Sask., Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unifor national president Jerry Dias wrote a letter to Premier Scott Moe, citing concerns about workers’ living conditions and the lack of social distancing.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan declares state of emergency as coronavirus concerns grow

“I can think of no worse conditions than having hundreds of workers living in shared accommodation in trailers, sharing bathrooms and kitchens,” he said, “where the COVID-19 virus can easily spread.”

Hundreds of replacement workers have been operating the refinery since Dec. 5, 2019 when Unifor Local 594 were locked out over contract negations.

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CRC responded to Dias’ concerns, stating they have implemented an infectious disease management program to limit the infection of the coronavirus to workers including a sanitization program, access to medical professionals 24-7 and are maintaining social distancing within the workplace.

CRC also said they are limiting employees access to the refinery and allowing only essential operators onsite, with others working from home or secure locations.

READ MORE: Co-op announces fiscal 2019 figures as Unifor labour dispute enters mediation

On March 17, the CRC announced it would defer its annual turnaround to limit the number of workers arriving in the province and on-site.

The CRC said they will be continuing all operations and the province’s fuel supply.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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