City of Regina calls for SHA investigation into CRC replacement worker camp

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The City of Regina is calling on the Saskatchewan Health Authority to investigate the Co-op refinery temporary worker camp. Allison Bamford reports. – Mar 26, 2020

The City of Regina is asking the Saskatchewan Health Authority to conduct a public health assessment on the replacement worker camp at the city’s Co-op refinery in regards to COVID-19.

This comes following a recent allegation from Unifor, claiming an emergency health care worker didn’t self-isolate after returning from Las Vegas on March 15.

“Since the COVID-19 threat became a reality here in Saskatchewan, we’ve heard increased concerns…we’re raising this as a major public health concern,” said Andrew Stevens, Regina city councillor.

Stevens said concerns came from community members not associated to either Co-op nor Unifor. He brought a motion to council on Friday asking the city to reach out to SHA, which passed.

READ MORE: Unifor Local 594 rejects Co-op’s latest offer, calling it ‘disgusting’

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Co-op chose to remove the replacement worker on March 20 out of “an abundance of caution.”

“He was not exhibiting any symptoms at the time, but we felt he should be removed from site for an isolation period anyway.  He has since been replaced by another paramedic,” Co-op spokesperson Brad DeLorey told Global News via email.

The employee did follow SHA’s order. At the time, SHA was telling anybody travelling back to Saskatchewan from outside of Canada, including the United States, prior to March 16 were allowed to go back to work as long the person had no COVID-19 symptoms.

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Nicolas Skulski, a Unifor Local 594 bargaining analysis team member, has been advocating for the camp to shut down for months.

READ MORE: Labour dispute continues after Co-op Refinery rejects special mediator’s recommendations

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“The fact that these people are coming in to do the work for us was the sticking point,” Skulski said. “Now with COVID-19, it just seems irresponsible.”

While the city is waiting to hear back from the SHA, the province says the camp undergoes regular inspections. To date, the camp meets all health-related requirements.

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

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers across Canada are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. In Saskatchewan, international travellers are already required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to the province.

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.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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