Healthy employees forced to demonstrate where they caught COVID-19

Healthy employees forced to demonstrate where they caught ; the COVID-19

MISE À DAY

Caregivers deplore having to fight to demonstrate the source of their COVID-19 infection in a context where more patients than ever find themselves hospitalized in their workplace.

Currently, if a Quebec nurse contracts COVID-19 in her workplace, she is obviously covered by the CNESST and the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases (LATMP) during her isolation. However, if the same caregiver cannot demonstrate the source of her infection, she may very well have to dip into her personal bank of sick leave to avoid ending up without a salary.

And in a context where transmission is multiplied everywhere, the exercise becomes difficult.

“When there is a doubt, the CHU health office sends a questionnaire to the staff to investigate the moment of infection. And no colleague around me has succeeded in demonstrating that the infection came from work”, confides to Journal an emergency nurse from the CHU de Québec who deplores that this “burden of proof is on their shoulders.

How do I know?

“How can I know if it was not an asymptomatic colleague who gave it to me? If it was not me who gave it to my son rather than the other way around, ”questions a nurse from the Hôtel-Dieu who had to take five days in her bank of sick leave, which has nine each year. , so as not to find yourself without a salary during the waiting period before health insurance coverage.

“After 30 years of service without almost ever taking sick leave and two years supporting the network, that's how they thank me,” she protests.

A another who works in the emergency department says that she is in daily contact with positive cases who arrive by ambulance or on their own two feet. “Despite this, the health service still considers that it is possible that we were infected in the community and refuses to consider our isolation as CNESST. […] We are laughed in the face.”

Risk of increasing transmission

The other significant point is the $15,000 bonus promised under various conditions, in particular that of not accumulating “unjustified” absences. If a nurse who exhausts her bank of sick leave due to a positive test, could she have her bonus reduced in the event of future absences in the other 11 months of the year? The question worries many.

And beyond this frustration, the fear is also to see colleagues prefer not to take screening tests and come to work with symptoms rather than risk not being able to demonstrate the exact source of their infection.

“It's the chronicle of an announced catastrophe”, insists a nurse. “A single parent who needs his sick leave for his children or a part-timer who has almost none, if he has slight symptoms, he will never get tested if he risks losing 5 days.”

This reality also worries the local union of the FIQ, which is currently making representations with some of the employees concerned.

“How are we able to determine the source when there are almost no more tests and that we don't have a trace? Why when there are positive cases in a center of activity, it does not become automatic, that we do not take it for granted that positive employees have contracted it at work, ”questions president Nancy Hogan.

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“Because it is quite possible after some try to thwart the procedure by not getting tested to avoid losing salary or sick leave”.

“Put the energy elsewhere »

Questioned for this purpose, the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) confirms that the health offices of the establishments are responsible for investigating “the source of contamination”. Then, if an employee is not satisfied with the decision, he can always turn to the CNESST, we are told. With all that this implies.

“Thus, the CNESST reserves the right to accept or refuse eligibility based on the information received from the employee and the employer,” said Marie-Claude Lacasse, spokesperson for the MSSS, adding that recourse then exists to challenge a decision.

However, in the midst of the fifth wave, the employees who confided in the Journal believe that everyone, both staff and management and the government, would do well to put their energies elsewhere.

“Once again, this demonstrates the lack of consideration and recognition we have from our employer and the ministry,” thunder these caregivers.< /p>

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