We need more from our provincial government and employers to protect frontline workers

December 30, 2021 – Statement to media from Marie Buchan, Secretary-Treasurer

In Manitoba, we’re hitting new records for COVID-19 cases every day and reports indicate that the Omicron variant is highly contagious. But, we have yet to see meaningful changes to policies that would add protection for all frontline workers.

As important as messaging about working from home is, we need to step up and fight to protect those on the frontlines who do not have this option and are providing essential services for Manitobans. We see restaurants and bars requiring proof of vaccination and masks, operating at 50% capacity and cutting off alcohol sales at 10:00 p.m. but in grocery stores (for example), our members are dealing with unmasked individuals on a daily basis without backup and enforcement to help keep them safe. 

We’re calling on the provincial government to:

  • Set and enforce capacity limits for all retail locations in Manitoba. 
  • Increase enforcement of mask rules in all public spaces.
  • Prioritize frontline workers in the distribution of at-home COVID tests.
  • Provide clear and consistent messaging to the public around isolation requirements, testing and COVID-19 safety protocols. 

We’re calling on employers of frontline workers to: 

  • Prioritize safety protocols such as requiring all customers to be masked and socially distanced in all of their locations. 
  • Ensure their employees have the highest quality protections available. For example, N95 masks and at-home tests.
  • Properly compensate all frontline employees who do not have the ability to work from home and are therefore taking on increased risks.

We’re asking the public to:

  • Report unmasked shoppers and other health-code violations to the COVID tip line. Phone: 1-866-626-4862 > press 3 or online at https://forms.gov.mb.ca/covid-tip-line/.
  • Be kind, patient and supportive to all workers on the frontlines.
  • Stay home whenever possible and limit shoppers to one person per household.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 832 is a union that represents over 19,000 Manitoban workers in food production, food distribution, warehousing, grocery retail, hospitality, security, personal care and assisted living.