Coronavirus Update 38

Face Covering Policy:
The face covering policy document was recently updated to reflect increased authority of crew to handle situations of non-compliance. It can be accessed by logging into ACAeronet>ePub>Covid-19 Tile>Face Covering Guidelines

We strongly recommend consulting this document prior to your next flight.

Service Increases:
In the 30JUN21 edition of IFS News, the company announced numerous service increases beginning on 07JUL21.

In late May 2021, after being briefed on proposed services changes the Union consulted an in-house occupational health and safety professional with a masters in immunology and doctorate in biomolecular sciences.

Also in late May, the Union consulted its American labour union partners regarding service, vaccinations and masking policies.

The Policy Health and Safety Committee participated in a risk assessment for service increases in May, and detailed commentary was submitted to the company on 26MAY21. Many of the Union’s concerns have not been addressed. These include:

  • A more gradual approach to re-introducing alcoholic beverages, and a postponement of re-introduction in Y class until the fall, like American Airlines.
  • Multi-step service in premium classes.

More importantly, many of the mitigations agreed to amongst stakeholders in the risk assessment remain partially completed or incomplete. These include:

  • Further education of crew regarding safe serving and monitoring of alcohol onboard.
  • Re-evaluation of multi-step services.
  • Evaluation of effectiveness of onboard announcements.

Despite full participation in the company risk assessment, the Policy Committee was not provided an update on the measures taken, nor briefed on the final service changes prior to them being published in the IFS News.

The Union is particularly concerned about the re-introduction of alcohol at this time. It is widely recognized that two shots against COVID-19 is required in order to have good protection against the highly contagious Delta variant that now dominates in many of the destinations we serve, and the Union has noted that many of our customers and cabin crew may not have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated. Alcohol is demonstrated to contribute to issues with mask wearing as well as to non-compliance with crew instructions onboard. It is closely associated with loud social interaction and lessening ones focus on precautions, something the Union considers a hazardous combination for our crew onboard.

Vaccination:
The Union continues to closely monitor the company’s vaccination policy and advocate accessibility of vaccination for its members, while recognizing the right of its members to make their own choices when it comes to their health. In addition, the Union has consulted with its North American labour union partners to inform itself about how other carriers and unions are addressing the issue.

To date there is no mandatory requirement for crew to provide any information to Air Canada or Air Canada Rouge regarding vaccination status, nor are there any vaccination requirements in place for any members at Air Canada or Air Canada Rouge.

Your health and safety representatives continue to advocate for appropriate protections that take into account the unvaccinated, partially vaccinated as well as fully vaccinated cabin crew members.

For further information regarding COVID-19 Vaccines, and paid leaves for vaccination click HERE.

The federal government has issued guidelines for social interaction depending on vaccination status. These can be viewed HERE .

The National Institute on Ageing has released a tool endorsed by the Public Health Agency of Canada to assist the public with assessing the risk of various social activities. There is a short and long version which can both be accessed HERE.

The PHAC’s detailed recommendations on the use of Covid-19 vaccines can be consulted HERE.

Delta Variant:
The Delta variant has become dominant in many areas of the world. It is estimated to be between 40-60% more contagious than the Alpha variant that caused the third wave this winter in Canada and nearly twice as contagious as the original SARS-CoV-2 virus that caused the first wave. Research is showing that two shots of double-dose vaccines is required in order to benefit from significant protection against symptomatic illness. Accordingly public health authorities have recommended prioritizing a second dose at the earliest possible convenience, even if the same brand as the first dose isn’t available.

Reporting:
Filing a report continues to be one of the most effective ways to get answers, drive change as well as ensure your health and safety rights are upheld. It’s also essential for reporting disruptive passenger events, including all cases of mask non-compliance.

All crew can and should file their own health and safety complaint as well as disruptive passenger reports.

Remember that all mask non-compliance must be communicated to Transport Canada by the company, but that this is only possible if YOU file the reports. Many members have expressed concern about fines being levied against the customer for minor non-compliance.  Filing a report does not necessarily mean that action will be taken against the individual, particularly for low-level occurances. It serves to help the company, committees and TC understand the challenges you face onboard.
At ACRouge, follow e-reporting process as per your Pub to file the relevant disruptive passenger reports and/or health and safety complaints.

At Mainline here’s how to report a potential hazard or violation to the Canada Labour Code Part II or a disruptive/unruly passenger including mask non-compliance:

  • FA’s only: ACF32 Health and Safety Concern Form
  • FA’s only: ACF34-D Disruptive-Unruly Passenger Report
  • Health and Safety Complaint E-Report OR Disruptive Passenger Security Report
    • sims.aircanada.ca
      • Sign in using your ACAeronet login credentials
      • In the report menu (small box top right corner) scroll down to select the appropriate report
    • iOS e-reporting app (Android coming soon)
      • For FA’s Using your device follow this link to install the app and access its user guide: ePub > Administrative Procedures > Cabin Mobility > iMenu . Once the app is installed, go to:Settings > General > Device Management > Air Canada > Trust
      • For SD’s use the e-report app on your iPad

We know there are many questions regarding the vaccines, COVID variants and on-board safety.  Your Union is active around the clock to ensure all concerns are heard and addressed, please reach out, use correct forms and keep your Local Health and Safety CUPE reps appraised of any issues.

In Solidarity,

Cabin Heat

DID YOU KNOW?
In hot weather with a full load of passengers boarded, the cabin temperature can increase at a rate of approximately 0.5C (1F) per minute.

The government regulations state that temperatures onboard should not go above 29 degrees:

Aviation Occupational Safety and Health Regulations (AOHSR) 7.1:
If reasonably practicable*, the air temperature on board an aircraft shall be maintained at a level of not less than 18°C and not more than 29°C.

*Transport Canada has previously stated that it is reasonable for the company to provide heating/cooling equipment at its gates.

REMEMBER:
– When it’s above 14C (57F) outside, cabin ventilation or cooling needs to be set up by ground staff according to company procedures.

– The Mainline IFS Policy Health and Safety Committee has recognized heat/cold as a workplace hazard:

Heat: Contact Stoc/PIC to ensure GPU or APU for air conditioning is turned on. Discontinue boarding and/or board when temperature is adequate. The jacket may be removed, as per the May 1st [2018] Move Me News. For safety reasons, it must always be worn for take-off, landing and in emergency situations. Drinking water, cooling breaks. In the June 1st [2018], Move Me News, it was announced that Crew Members are permitted to wear short sleeves for the J class service. Further concerns about the uniform should be referred to your local Manager.

– Notify the Captain/STOC immediately who can notify the appropriate ground staff to address the issue, as per ground procedures. And ask to hold off boarding if the cabin temperature is not conducive to safe occupancy.

– Closing window shades may assist in cooling down the cabin.

REPORTING:
It is crucial to submit a health and safety complaint about any suspected hazards to the company. This ensures that it is documented for statistical trending, investigated, and ultimately permits you to refer your complaint to the health and safety committee is the employer isn’t able to resolve it with you directly.

A health and safety complaint can be filed on the iPad if you are an in-charge or via sims.aircanada.ca.

In solidarity,

Your Air Canada Component of CUPE Health and Safety Committee

Coronavirus Update 37

Vaccination campaigns are set to open to the masses across the country, and the company is launching its clinics in Montreal and Toronto over the next couple of weeks. The Union encourages its members to make an informed choice, and to understand their rights when it comes to time off to get the jab.

COVID-19 vaccine webinar:
For those who might be undecided, we wish to share a recording from a recent webinar hosted by PreventionLink, an Ontario-based safety organization, and presented by Andréane Chénier, one of CUPE National’s health and safety servicing reps. She holds a masters in immunology, a doctorate in biomolecular sciences and previously worked in the field of HIV, cancer and immunology research.

The webinar provides a full overview of viruses, the immune system and how vaccines work. It also addresses some of the most common questions and concerns specifically related to COVID-19 vaccines.

NOTE: The webinar was recorded last month, and viewers will notice that information related to the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines and the very rare vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) is slightly out of date.

The webinar can be accessed HERE.

CUPE COVID-19 vaccine fact sheet:
CUPE’s COVID-19 vaccination fact sheet is also a good source of information and can be accessed HERE.

Leave to get the COVID-19 vaccine:
Employees in federally regulated workplaces can take personal leave, provided under Part III of the Canada Labour Code (the Code), in order to get vaccinated. The Code provides that employee is entitled to and shall be granted 5 days of personal leave, in a calendar year, in order to:

  • treat an injury or illness;
  • take care of health obligations for any member of your family or care for them;
  • take care of obligations related to the education of any family member under age 18;
  • manage any urgent situation that concerns you or a family member; and
  • attend your citizenship ceremony under the Citizenship Act.

The vaccination appointment would fall undertaking care of health obligations for themselves and/or managing urgent situation concerning themselves – as noted above.

Please note that an employee who has completed three consecutive months of continuous employment with the employer is entitled to the first three days of personal leave with pay at employee’s regular rate of wages for their normal hours of work.

Information on how to access this leave can be found by visiting:

HRConnex > Forms & Reference Documents > HR Policies and Programs > HR Policy – Personal Leaves

In Solidarity,

Coronavirus Update 36

The Union has been made aware of instances where members were told that they could not be served at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic or provider due to travel within the past 14 days.

If you have been vaccinated or attempted to get vaccinated, please click on the link below and respond to some questions regarding your experience:

https://forms.office.com/r/7SaG2F0J0W

The Union has approached the company as well as Transport Canada who both advise that specific details are crucial in order to best take steps to address potential problems.

In Solidarity,

National Day of Mourning

Today is the National Day of Mourning for workers who have lost their lives while on the job. More than a year into the pandemic it is clear that the effects of COVID-19 have deeply affected workers in countless industries. Many of us know someone who contracted the virus at work. Maybe a school teacher or a bus driver, or the cashier at the local grocery store. Sadly, many of our own members amongst the extended CUPE National family have fallen ill while at work and some have lost their lives (not at airlines). This is in addition to all the other workplace illnesses, injuries and deaths that occur all too frequently because of other “traditional” hazards.

If anything good can come from COVID, perhaps it’s that we must never allow ourselves to be content with the level of safety that we enjoy. Because what’s safe today may be wholly inadequate for the hazards of tomorrow. We must learn from what we have lived through, and ALWAYS do our best to build upon that knowledge so that we can successfully face those new challenges when they come.

When COVID is over, we must remember the acute shortage of personal protective equipment in the early months of the pandemic. Why didn’t we learn from SARS? Why didn’t we have our own manufacturing facilities for respirators, gowns, gloves and masks?

We must remember the slow rollout of vaccines. We were overdue for a pandemic, so why didn’t we learn from SARS and ensure manufacturing capacity here at home?

We must remember the troubles our members have had getting access to essential health care, ironically because they perform an essential job that has them cross borders.

We must remember how long it took our governments to acknowledge what was plainly obvious as early as 2 weeks into the pandemic and backed in solid scientific studies: this was a pathogen that spreads through the air.

We must remember how provincial and federal regulations fail to this day to ensure proper respiratory protections for front-line essential workers despite clear epidemiological evidence that they bear a significant portion of COVID-19 infections in the second and third wave.

Had we, as a society, collectively learned from SARS and addressed these things, how many people could have avoided falling ill? How many people could we have saved?

It is by making a daily commitment to safety that we can honour those whose lives have been lost this past year, and years prior. Report all hazards – even if you’ve done it before. Report all illness and injury – even if it’s minor. Hold your political leaders accountable, and demand that we act on lessons that ought to have been learnt from the past and make good on doing the same for those we have unfortunately had to learn this past year.

We encourage you to view the CUPE National Day of Mourning message by clicking HERE.

In solidarity,

Your Air Canada Component of CUPE Health and Safety Committee