Dear Members,

Yesterday, we joined health care unions in signing 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 RNs, NPs and health care workers on the front lines of COVID-19.

I encourage you to click here to read the agreement. Here are a few key highlights:

Alternate Schedules – You may be required to work alternate schedules and overtime. You will be compensated as per the collective agreement.

Assignment of Duties – You may be required to work outside your normal work duties. However, you will not be required to work on an assignment beyond your scope of practice.

Compensation due to isolation/illness – You will be eligible for special leave with pay for self-isolation as of March 20. If you are asymptomatic but recommended or directed to self-isolate, you will be placed on special leave with pay up to a maximum of 75 hours. Permanent part time employees will be paid for all missed work hours to a maximum of 75 hours. If you are not exhibiting symptoms and can work from home, you may be required to do so during self-isolation.  If you exhibit acute respiratory illness-like symptoms, special leave will revert to sick leave, annual leave or time off in lieu where sick leave is exhausted.

Casual employees, who are asymptomatic but required to self-isolate and/or exhibit acute respiratory illness-like symptoms and are unable to return to work, will be placed on special leave with pay. Pay will be based on averaging the hours worked over the last six pay periods up to a combined maximum of 75 hours.

Redeployment of Staff – You may be redeployed as demand dictates to other units or work sites. Where possible, the employer will seek volunteers first. If an insufficient number of employees volunteer, the employer may redeploy employees as needed. You will receive as much notice as possible and be provided with appropriate orientation. Redeployments will be done in accordance with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Interim Infection and Prevention Guidance for COVID-19.

Reporting to work and childcare – If you follow the policies and procedures for reporting to work and make a demonstrable effort to secure alternate childcare, you will not be disciplined if you are unable to report to work for childcare obligations. This does not apply to employees working from home.
Summer Schedules – will be posted by June 1. This date may be subject to change, based on operational requirements.

The agreement also includes provisions for waving collective agreement timelines and continuation of workers’ compensation benefits. In addition to RNU, the agreement was signed by NAPE, CUPE and AAHP.

Please reach out to your Labour Relations Officer with any questions or concerns by emailing or leaving a message at our office 709-753-9961.

These are unprecedented and challenging times.

The province’s healthcare unions, which unite and represent thousands of healthcare workers, are doing everything in their power to ensure that our healthcare system is agile and responsive in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, while also protecting the rights of our members.

We’re all in this together. This agreement shows that everyone involved is focused on the same goal – beating this virus.

In solidarity

Debbie Forward, RN