Nurses with COVID-19 must have access to immediate coverage: Union

THE BC Nurses’ Union says it is concerned that nurses who test positive for COVID-19 could face lengthy delays in accessing much-needed compensation through WorkSafeBC (WSBC).

As of June 8, 136 nurses in British Columbia have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and account for just over 20% of coronavirus cases among health care workers in BC.

Union President Christine Sorensen said on Wednesday that nurses who are already making incredible sacrifices during this unprecedented time should not have to worry about running into barriers when filing a claim.

“We are concerned the process will be unreasonably slow and unable to respond in a timely manner given the acuteness of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sorensen. “Nurses, and health care workers who are infected with the virus while performing their duty to care for patients must be supported immediately. The current system requires a policy analysis and can be very laborious and time-consuming.”

BCNU recently sent a letter to Labour Minister Harry Bains expressing concerns over the potential for delays. The union has also launched an online campaign that encourages the public to write their MLA and ask that they put pressure on the government to ensure the immediate inclusion of COVID-19 to the list of occupational diseases that are presumed to have been contracted in the workplace.

“Nurses are professionals, but they aren’t expendable,” said Sorensen. “The last four months have been stressful for our members, and it is hard to predict if we will experience a second wave. We need to ensure the health and well-being of nurses and all health care workers is a top priority and doesn’t get bogged down by bureaucratic delays.”