Thank you for helping to crush the curve

gmcneil COVID-19 Announcements

Members of Local 4935, Bay St. George in Stephenville Crossing, ask you to stay home and stay safe!

Today I’m wearing red. I’m wearing red in memory of the victims of the deadliest mass shooting that has ever taken place in Canada. Words can’t express my grief, shock, and heartache. CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador sends our heartfelt condolences to all those who lost family, friends, neighbours and co-workers. May the knowledge that you are in our thoughts and prayers bring you some comfort at this devastating time.

Thank you to our members, and everyone in Newfoundland and Labrador, for your commitment to bringing the coronavirus to a standstill. We are crushing the curve here in Newfoundland and Labrador!  We’ve had seven days with no reported cases. Keep up the physical distancing and the hand washing and Stay in your Bubble!

Your Division executive continues to work hard on your behalf. The executive has been having weekly conference calls to discuss issues that are arising in our locals. We’ve also been planning our convention for the weekend of September 11 to 13, 2020.

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Faces of the Frontline

gmcneil COVID-19 Announcements, Occupational Health & Safety

Dear Members:

I hope you enjoy the photos below of our long-term care members at St. Pat’s Mercy Home and Glenbrook Lodge in St. John’s. It is always so great to get news from members and to hear how you are coping through this very challenging time. My heart goes out to those of you on the frontlines of this pandemic and to those of you working behind the scenes, or in a changed work environment. These are trying times indeed, and seeing your faces is heartwarming and reassuring.

I and other CUPE leaders have been working hard behind the scenes to make sure you have the protective equipment you need to stay safe. It isn’t quite there yet for some of you, and we will keep working on your behalf, as you, in turn, work for all of us. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your courage to keep showing up so the rest of us are safe.

I hope you continue to share your stories and your photos. Send them to me at and I’ll post them to social media for others to enjoy.

Take heart. We will get through this, and we will be stronger together.

Sherry Hillier
President, CUPE NL

CUPE Local 879 members at St. Pat’s Mercy Home in St. John’s.

Members of Local 879, St. Pat’s Mercy Home ask you to keep them safe by staying home!

More members of L879 at St. Pat’s Mercy Home: Thank you for helping to flatten the curve!

Local 879, St. Pat’s Mercy Home: We are all in this together!

Local 879 members at Glenbrook Lodge in St. John’s ask you to stay in your bubble!

Local 879, Glenbrook Lodge says thank you for keeping them safe!


Q&A on COVID-19 for education members

gmcneil COVID-19 Fact Sheets, Occupational Health & Safety

How long does the virus live on surfaces?

A recent study found that the COVID-19 coronavirus can survive up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. The researchers also found that this virus can hang out as droplets in the air for up to three hours before they fall. But most often they will fall more quickly. Since many surfaces in our workplace are made of unknown, mixed, or varied surfaces, we should assume all surfaces are contaminated for three days after a possible exposure.

What should I do if the nature of my work (i.e. lifting a heavy object) requires me and my co-workers to be closer than 2 metres to perform the task?

Social distancing is an administrative control on the risk of contracting COVID-19. Administrative controls use rules or work procedures to organize the work in such a way that contact with the hazard is reduced or eliminated. There will be times when the tasks we are performing require working in close contact. In those situations, we look to personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep us safe. The most important PPE is a mask; medical-grade surgical masks are the best option, but they are increasingly in short supply. If that is not available, then a cloth face covering provides a good level of protection, as long as both persons are wearing one. Gloves are advisable if you cannot frequently wash your hands.

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Social distancing and working alone in the municipal sector

gmcneil COVID-19 Fact Sheets, Occupational Health & Safety

As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, all public sector workers are experiencing profound changes in their work. Social distancing is requiring work to be rearranged in ways that minimize contact with other people. In the municipal sector, this is leading to more and more situations where municipal employees are working alone. 

Working alone is often misunderstood. There may be situations where multiple people are working in the same building, but if their work duties don’t bring them into regular contact with one another, they are working alone. A worker is working alone if help would not be readily available when needed. It is not enough that workers have access to cell phones. A worker must be conscious to use the phone, and any number of injuries or medical emergencies could prevent them from calling for help.

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Q&A for care providers

gmcneil COVID-19 Fact Sheets, Occupational Health & Safety

How do we practice social distancing at work?

To the best of our ability. Many public sector workers are in workplaces that have been deemed essential and will continue to operate during the pandemic. In this context social distancing is a hazard control and must be followed whenever possible. Work should be arranged to minimize the direct contact workers have with one another and with clients/the public. In cases where distance cannot be maintained, frequent handwashing, disinfecting of commonly touched surfaces and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is recommended.

My co-workers aren’t practicing social distancing. What can I do?

Social distancing is now a form of “safe work procedure” in use by most workplaces. Just like with any other safety protocols, if they are not being followed, that creates an unsafe situation that should be reported to the employer. Reporting is not the same thing as “ratting”; reporting gets someone out of trouble (such as by ensuring protocols that protect us all are being followed). “Ratting” is getting someone else in trouble without enhancing safety for others.

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Child care for essential workers

gmcneil COVID-19 Fact Sheets, Occupational Health & Safety

Photo by jeniffertn

Many CUPE members have questions about child care during this very challenging time. Essential workers who are providing health and critical public services during the pandemic and who do not have access to child care may be eligible for government-sponsored child care.

  • Limited child care services will be available for children ages one to 13 years in existing child care centres, family child care homes, and schools, subject to availability.
  • Existing health and safety requirements will apply but reduced child care group sizes will be implemented in order to protect the safety of staff and children as recommended by public health.
  • Regulated child care services typically operate between 7:30am-5:30pm, Monday-Friday.
  • School-based child care will be available for school-aged children only and will operate between 8:00am-5:00pm, Monday-Friday.

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Q&A on the Right to Refuse and personal protective equipment

gmcneil COVID-19 Fact Sheets, Occupational Health & Safety

Can I use my right to refuse for COVID-19?

Employees have a right to refuse unsafe work when there are reasonable grounds to believe that the work, tool, or equipment is dangerous to you or another person’s health and safety. Many situations could create a dangerous condition in your workplace and COVID-19 is no exception. For most workers, especially those in a health care workplace, the presence of a communicable disease isn’t automatically dangerous, as long as you have the training and appropriate resources, including personal protective equipment (PPE) to do the work safely.

When do I need to use Personal Protective Equipment?

Working with residents or patients who are suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 is hazardous work, and PPE is an important tool that allows your work to be performed safely. COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets so the PPE for those providing care would include a mask to cover your mouth, goggles or a face shield to cover your eyes, a gown to cover your clothing, and gloves to protect your hands. Lacking any of these resources would make the work more hazardous and could lead to a dangerous situation.

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Sherry Hilier

Message from Sherry Hillier: You are all heroes in this global pandemic

gmcneil COVID-19 Announcements

On behalf of CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador I personally want to thank all CUPE members for doing their part in this complex and unprecedented situation.

CUPE members are doing critical work across the province, especially our frontline health care workers. Thank you for your dedication to your work, and the extraordinary effort that you deliver each day. To quote our National President, Mark Hancock, “you are all heroes in this global pandemic.”

I have been working with other unions and government daily to ensure we are doing what is best for you and your families. We need health care workers to be as protected as can be from COVID-19.

Just this week we agreed to a Good Neighbour Agreement that was signed by all four health care unions. We are continuing our work to secure adequate Personal Protective Equipment and PPE training and fit testing for those who need it.

Also this week we helped to secure child care for our essential workers. You can find out more including how to apply on the government website:

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CUPE signs Good Neighbour Agreement with employer and other health care unions

gmcneil COVID-19 Announcements, Occupational Health & Safety

Please note, the Good Neighbour Agreement applies to our health care members only.

Yesterday, CUPE and other unions representing health care workers signed a Good Neighbour Agreement with the Regional Health Authorities and the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information.

This agreement will ensure a planned and timely response to the COVID-19 pandemic in our health care system.

Good Neighbour Agreements are often put in place during emergencies. We signed one in 2009 for the H1N1 pandemic and several provinces already have Good Neighbour Agreements in place for COVID-19.

The agreement determines how health human resources will be shared and how health-care providers will be compensated and protected as we respond to COVID-19.

It will help ensure the health and safety of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, while protecting health care workers on the front lines of COVID-19.

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