Health and safety are top concerns

News Blog
Financial Secretary's Desk, Guardian, Winter 2020 issue

We’re in the midst of one of the most challenging times for our public health care system.

When I talk to HEU members, the conversations quickly turn to what they’re experiencing on the front lines during this pandemic. And let me share with you that what I hear is very troubling as we enter into the second wave of COVID-19, further restrictions, and more burden on our health care system and those providing care.

All of us are struggling. I want members to know that I see you. Your union cares very deeply. We see the hard work you’re doing. We see the unrelenting stress and anxiety you’ve been experiencing, especially with outbreaks and infections all around us at our work sites.

Health and safety are top concerns

Members are more concerned than ever about workplace health and safety. The union continues to share information about the steps members should take if they experience COVID-19 exposure, symptoms or are confirmed to have COVID-19.

We’re also hearing about the mental and psychological toll on members, as they continue to provide care while worrying about their own safety and that of their loved ones.

HEU members ensure patients and residents are fed. We make sure they’re safe. We keep their environment clean and sanitized. We hold their hands and give them support when they can’t see their families.

Sadly, many of us have had to say goodbye to the people we’ve been caring for. Under the weight of our work and our worries, we often neglect our own mental health. But it’s critical we take care of our mind and body so that we can take care of others.

Mental health support for health care workers

I encourage members to make use of the many mental health services and resources that are available to provide psychological support to health care workers, like SafeCare BC (, the Canadian Mental Health Association (, and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s Provincial Health Services Authority Mobile Response Team (1-888-686-3022).

And I encourage members to visit the “Health and Safety” section of HEU’s website for updated COVID-19 resources and information.

This has been an undeniably hard year for everyone, especially health care workers. But I remain in awe of how our members have handled this global pandemic with compassion, care and resilience.

by Betty Valenzuela