COVID-19 information for employees and volunteers

What employees need to know: Your digest

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What employees need to know

Your digest archives

September 21, 2021

We want to make it easy for employees to access the latest from Canadian Blood Services.  Every Tuesday and Friday, we will be bringing you important COVID-19 updates along with valuable information and inspiring stories about other parts of our operations.  

We know things are rapidly changing; please remember you can always reach out to communications@blood.ca with your questions and suggestions on how we can better help employees.  

Here is the latest.

Reminder to report your vaccination status by Sept.22

Tomorrow is the last day of the mandatory vaccination status reporting period. We are thankful to those who have provided us with this important information as we prepare for the next phase of our policy. As we approach the final hours of the reporting phase, we are encouraged by the number of employees who are fully vaccinated or on their way to being fully vaccinated.

Employees who do not report their vaccination status by end of day Sept.22 will be considered “unvaccinated” and will be contacted by a PCP team member to discuss the next steps.

You can enter your status and attestation through the COVID-19/My COVID-19 Vaccine app on meda.blood.ca which can be accessed through any computer, tablet or smartphone. You can also access MEDA from MyApps on the Connect home page. (To access the app, you will need to be connected to a Canadian Blood Services network, through VPN if working remotely, or use your Entrust Grid Card for mobile devices.)

If you are experiencing any challenges in accessing the reporting tool or have questions/concerns about the COVID-19 vaccination policy, please refer to the various supports on the vaccine policy page, talk to your manager or supervisor or email communications@blood.ca.

Stem cells without borders

When lockdown measures began rolling out across Canada at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, some stem cell patients were in the middle of a process called conditioning, which typically includes intense chemotherapy and radiation to destroy their bone marrow prior to receiving a transplant. At that point, the patient is at risk of dying if the new stem cells are delayed. Faced suddenly with modified travel requirements, tighter border rules and fewer flights, the team at Canadian Blood Services Stem Cell Registry realized that connecting stem cell donors to waiting recipients during a pandemic would require extra-heroic feats of logistics. Read the incredible story of how our employees, donors and stem cell couriers stepped up to help deliver lifesaving stem cells to patients during the pandemic at blood.ca/stories.

Childhood cancer survivor inspires his mother to become a donor

Five years ago, Kate Jollymore of Chester, N.S. received news no parent wants to hear. Her nine-year-old son Sean had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of blood cancer. Sean’s diagnosis marked the beginning of a difficult battle that lasted more than three years, during which he required multiple blood and platelet transfusions. Seeing firsthand how blood donors helped save her son’s life inspired Kate to start donating blood in 2017. “Sean sat with me while I made my very first blood donation, which was really special,” she says. Now, four years later, Kate continues to donate blood as she watches her now 15-year-old son grow and enjoy a regular teenage life. Sean also continues to encourage others to become blood donors. Read Sean and Kate’s inspiring story at blood.ca/stories.

Long-term disability premiums resume Oct.1, 2021 (PP20/21)

Employees who are enrolled in long-term disability (LTD) group benefits through Manulife will see their regular LTD premiums resume as of Oct.1, 2021 (PP20/21). Earlier this year, a LTD premium “holiday” was negotiated with our benefits provider so that no LTD premiums would be processed from employees’ pay from Apr.1, 2021 to Sept. 30, 2021. After Oct.1, LTD premium deductions will be processed every pay for employee who are enrolled. It is worth noting that as part of the annual benefits renewal process with Manulife, premiums for LTD have recently decreased by 10 per cent. If you have questions about the LTD premiums and/or the change that is coming into effect, please contact your Human Resources representative.

Question of the day: What is Canadian Blood Services doing to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?

Beginning this year, on Sept.30, 2021, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will become a designated paid holiday for all Canadian Blood Services employees, as one small step toward our organization’s broader reconciliation goals.

This new federal statutory observance was created to honour and remember the more than 150,000 children who were forcibly taken from their families and communities and placed in residential schools, and to acknowledge the thousands of children who never made it home.

Leading up to Sept.30, we will be sharing educational resources on Indigenous inclusion, allyship and history with staff. We will also be sharing updates on the work that is being undertaken through our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) program to respectfully strengthen relationships and partnerships with Indigenous employees, organizations and communities in Canada.

Employees who are interested in finding out more about our reconciliation work are encouraged to register and save the date for a special Lunch and Learn session on Wednesday, Sept. 29 (11 a.m. ET) with Quintessential Research Group Inc. (QRG), the Indigenous-led consulting firm that has been working closely with our organization to develop our own Reconciliation Action Plan.

During this session, employees will get the opportunity to learn more about Canadian Blood Services’ partnership with QRG, the collaborative work our organization has done so far to support reconciliation and what important steps we are taking next. For staff who are unable to attend, a recording will be made available following the session.

Visit our DEI resource page on Connect for more information and continue to read Your Digest leading up to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation for more engagement and learning opportunities.

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Reminder to report your COVID-19 vaccination status by Sept. 22

 

About your digest

This digest highlights the latest policy and employee support measures, resources to help you manage our new reality and original content like articles and videos to remind us that what we do matters.  No access to email? No problem — all this information and more can be found on blood.ca/employees from any device, no login required.     

Click here to read past editions of your digest. 

Have questions? Check out blood.ca/employees or email us at communications@blood.ca

How to self-administer employee temperature checks
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“How to self-administer employee temperature checks”

 

 

 

 

 

Mandatory temperature checks for employees, volunteers and contractors have been implemented across all Canadian Blood Services facilities. Here are the steps you need to know to properly complete your employee temperature check.

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How to put on and remove your surgical mask
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"How to wear a mask"

 

 

 

 

 

Masks are mandatory for all employees and volunteers and contractors  working in donor centres, operational environments and in Canadian Blood Services administrative facilities.

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How to remove and discard your gloves
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How to remove your gloves

 

 

 

 

 

Gloves are mandatory for employees, volunteers and contractors who work in Canadian Blood Services collections environments. Knowing how to properly remove your gloves is essential to limiting the spread of COVID-19 and keeping our teams safe.

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Q&A: Stay informed

Wherever you go, friends, family, colleagues and the media are talking about COVID-19. As the situation evolves rapidly, so does our response. Please continue to check your COVID-19 employee portal as policies and procedures develop. 

Your feedback is incredibly valuable as it helps us better understand the areas we need to be looking at. If your question is not answered on this page, please contact us at communications@blood.ca so we can find an answer for you. 

 

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How do I access credible information on COVID-19?

With so much misinformation out there, it is important that you have access to trusted and credible sources of information. We recommend the following sources:  

If you have a question on COVID-19 that we have not answered, please contact us at communications@blood.ca.  

What is the process of returning to work after I have been ill?

Return to work after a COVID-19+ diagnosis

Any employee who has tested positive for COVID-19 will fall under the care and direction of local public health authorities, who will advise when the employee is safe to return to work. Please advise Employee Health Services, who will confirm the information with public health. Recovering employees may have COVID-like symptoms, such as a residual cough, which would normally restrict them from passing through the wellness checkpoint. Therefore, Employee Health Services will issue the employee a letter advising that they are safe to report to work and can pass through the wellness checkpoint. Employees should bring the EHS letter with them each time they report to work.

Return to work after COVID-like symptoms

Employees who have had COVID-like symptoms should only return to work following the applicable regional public health authority guidance. If the employee has residual symptoms that would normally restrict them from passing through the wellness checkpoint, a written declaration from their physician will need to be provided to Employee Health Services in order for a letter to be issued advising that they are safe to report to work and can pass through the wellness checkpoint. Employees should bring the EHS letter with them each time they report to work and may be required to wear a mask during their shift.

Employees with COVID-like symptoms due to another medical issue

Some employees may have COVID-like symptoms that are caused by another medical issue such as allergies or asthma. A declaration from their physician will need to be provided to Employee Health Services in order for a letter to be issued advising that they are safe to report to work and can pass through the wellness checkpoint. Employees should bring the letter with them each time they report to work and may be required to wear a mask during their shift.

If you have questions, please contact your Employee Health Services representative.

How will employees be informed if a colleague has tested positive for COVID-19?

Please visit the case management page on your COVID-19 employee portal for more information. 

What PPE and other safety measures are in place at Canadian Blood Services?

Please visit our wellness page on blood.ca and our PPE page on your COVID-19 employee portal for more information.

Is Canadian Blood Services authorizing employees to conduct personal or business travel?

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) continues to advise against non-essential international travel.

We are asking employees to do their part to keep our teams, donors and operations safe. Please follow all federal and local public health guidance related to travel. Below is an overview of how Canadian Blood Services is handling travel requests:  

Business travel  

While domestic business travel is being assessed on a case-by-case basis through our essential and important travel approval process, at this time we will not be approving international business travel. This decision follows public health guidance. If you have questions, please contact corporatecard@blood.ca.   

Personal travel  

The same advice from PHAC applies to international and domestic personal travel. It is important to remember that if you are considering personal travel inside or outside of the country, that you check your personal travel insurance before leaving. Following the advice from public health, upon your return you must follow all the provincial and federal rules in effect.

If you have to isolate when returning from personal travel and cannot work virtually, you will not qualify for COVID-19 financial leave measures such as quarantine leave.  

Is Canadian Blood Services providing COVID-related financial leave support to employees?

Yes.

When the pandemic hit, we had to come together to determine how we as an organization could continue to support our teams as we adapted to meet the challenges associated with COVID-19.

An overview of our COVID-19 related leave supports and eligibility criteria can be found on Connect. If you think you may need to utilize any of the leave options, we encourage you to speak with your manager to learn more.

We will be reviewing the COVID-related leaves in the early fall and will provide six weeks’ notice prior to any modification of the leaves.

If you are a manager and you have questions, please reach out to your PCP business partner.

Are gym spaces within CBS facilities re-opening?

We know that employees across the country are frustrated that rooms designated as gym spaces at Canadian Blood Services continue to be closed. Our priority is to ensure we can continue to safeguard our teams, donors and operations. The closure of gyms was reviewed by the COVID-19 Program, where a difficult decision was made to continue to keep our gym spaces closed across the country. 

As announced in June, the organization decided to maintain current COVID measures during the months of July and August, with a possible extension into September. We are continuing to assess the data that may impact the re-opening of gym spaces, including employee vaccination rates, the fourth wave in many areas and the highly contagious virus variants. As such, safety measures at collection events and in all facilities will continue, including the continued closure of fitness rooms. We understand that physical activity is incredibly important to mental health —which is more important than ever. However, we could not in good conscious open these spaces and increase the risk of putting our teams’ safety in jeopardy. 

Due to the fluid and shifting pandemic environment, we are taking a national approach to this decision: 

Gym spaces at Canadian Blood Services are not set-up to sustain the risks associated with COVID-19. 

Unlike commercial gyms, our infrastructure is not set-up to properly implement the rigorous restrictions required to keep our teams safe. The shared space does not have the ventilation of commercial gyms, and physical distancing cannot be maintained, meaning only a few employees would be able to use the space per day. 

Facilities do not have the capacity to ensure proper cleaning and appointment systems are in place. 

In order to align with public health requirements which, vary across the country, most equipment in the gym space would need to be removed because it cannot be properly disinfected after each use. Meaning employees would not experience the full benefit of the space. 

This decision will continue to be evaluated by the COVID-19 Program and updates will be provided to employees as they become available. 

We recognize that physical activity is crucial for our mental health. We’ve extended our virtual fitness classes with Goodlife and are adding additional classes to ensure that employees — in particular our frontline teams — can access this important resource. 

We also encourage our teams to take advantage of the other wellness resources available to them, including our employee assistance program (EAP) which includes free therapy sessions with a licensed professional, as well a wide array of video and written LifeSpeak resources available through your employee wellness portal on Connect. 

If you are feeling overwhelmed and need a break for physical exercise, we encourage employees to speak with their leaders to build physical activity, such as a break for a walk outside, into your workday. 

As part of our ongoing evaluation on gyms, we welcome employees to provide us with their views. Please send them to communications@blood.ca with the subject line “GYMS.” These comments will be sent to the COVID-19 Program to help inform future decisions on the re-opening of gyms.

Are you worried about COVID-19 spreading through the use of fans or portable air conditioners? 

The use of portable fans and portable/directional air conditioner units at fixed donor centres and mobile events should be avoided as they may spread droplets further than 2 meters. 

If temperature concerns arise at our owned/leased sites, please contact Facilities Management to respond. 

If fans are determined to be absolutely required to maintain operations, please review the Guidelines on Use of Portable Fans and Air Conditioner Units

COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted or reduced in my region. Do I still need to follow COVID-19 guidance and policies in Canadian Blood Services sites? 

Yes, until further notice, anyone who enters a Canadian Blood Services site will have to continue adhering to established COVID-19 measures and policies. There is still significant uncertainty as to the course of the pandemic including how provincial re-opening and vaccine uptake is going to impact case rates and whether there will be a fourth pandemic wave in the fall. Given this uncertainty, the organization is taking a cautious approach especially when it comes to lifting safety measures such as mandatory masks and physical distancing. Please check with your manager/supervisor if you have questions about specific changes/restrictions, or email communications@blood.ca.  

What if I’ve received both of my vaccinations? 

Vaccination is so important as all COVID-19 vaccines are effective in preventing serious disease and hospitalizations. However, no vaccine is 100% effective and the efficacy of vaccines against emerging variants is uncertain. At this time, it is also not known for certain if a fully vaccinated person can transmit COVID-19. This, along with positive case count, will inform our own policies and guidance going forward. We will continue to evaluate practices, such as mask wearing, as the pandemic evolves, and we will revisit our restrictions in the fall. 

Now that restrictions are being lifted or reduced in my region, can we resume normal activities, like recruitment events, special events in donor centres, etc.? 

Given the uncertainty in this phase of the pandemic, the organization will only make changes to guidance or policies where essential. The COVID-19 program continues to monitor and assess the need to resume operational activities that were paused in response to impacts of the pandemic. Please check with your manager/supervisor if you have questions about specific changes/restrictions, or email communications@blood.ca.

Why are we taking this approach while the rest of the country is opening up?

There is still significant uncertainty as to the course of the pandemic including how provincial re-opening and vaccine uptake is going to impact case rates and whether there will be a fourth pandemic wave in the fall. Given this uncertainty, the organization is taking a cautious approach especially when it comes to lifting safety measures such as mandatory masks and physical distancing. We have made the decision to maintain current measures and policies given the uncertainty of this phase of the pandemic and will revisit these in the fall.

When will we start lifting COVID-19 restrictions?

Our COVID-19 team is consistently monitoring and assessing whether current measures are sufficient or if additional measures are necessary to protect the health and safety of donors, employees, contractors and volunteers. Positive case numbers, and public health and government guidance for vaccinated (two doses) individuals will likely continue to evolve and will inform our own policies and guidance going forward. We will continue to evaluate practices, such as mask wearing, as the pandemic evolves, and we will revisit our restrictions in the fall.

Q&A: Collections events

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What enhanced measures are in place in our donor centres to protect against the spread of COVID-19?

When a donor, employee or volunteer walks through our doors they can take comfort in knowing that we are taking proactive steps to limit the risk of infection.

Mandatory masks, enhanced cleaning and physical distancing measures and wellness screening checkpoints for all individuals are in place to make sure individuals entering are healthy.

Our team is consistently monitoring and assessing whether additional measures are necessary to protect the health and safety of donors, employees and volunteers. Click here for an overview of the measures we have put in place. If you are working onsite, more detailed information, is available through the COVID-19 Practices & Processes at Donor Events document and the PPE page on your COVID-19 portal.

Are there guidelines available for visitors (ex: media; donor relations events) entering our collections environments?

Although casual tours or friends/family of donors are not allowed in our collections environments at this time, we recognize that some in-person publicity and recruitment events may need to proceed to help safeguard the blood supply. Please review our Guidelines for Visitors to Donor Centres when considering publicity or recruitment events at your location. 

Why are we allowing external vendors from out-of-province to enter our sites?

There are times when external vendors from out of province or region are required on site to maintain or repair equipment to limit disruptions to our critical operations. These individuals are essential workers who perform specialized work that isn’t available through local resources. 

Essential workers are required to follow all local and provincial requirements for interprovincial travel, are screened at our wellness checkpoints before entering our facilities and must follow all COVID-19 prevention and safety protocols. 

We continue to monitor and evaluate each situation and will make adjustments as necessary to ensure the safety of our employees, donors and operations. 

What changes are being make to post-donation refreshments in response to COVID-19?

To support our decision to implement mandatory masks for donors, we introduced a new system in our refreshment areas May 1, 2020.

To limit the risk of spreading the virus, donors will be asked to sit for five minutes in the refreshment area with their masks on after their donation to rest and to allow collections staff to monitor their wellbeing. After their rest period, they will be encouraged to grab a snack and refreshment to consume after they leave the donor centre. If a donor chooses not to spend time in the recovery area they would be offered a snack and refreshment to go. This measure is one of many we are taking to protect the safety employees, volunteers and donors.

FAQ

What if a donor is feeling faint during their donation and needs a sip of water?

Donor centre teams should continue to monitor and respond to donor reactions in line with existing practices. If a donor requires the removal of a mask to assist with breathing, needing water, or a cold compress — this would be should be administered as required.  In circumstances where an employee needs to assist a donor who must remove their mask, we recommend that the employee supplement their PPE with a face shield.

How will this new measure impact our volunteers?

Volunteers continue to be a vital part of the donation experience: Since the outbreak of the global pandemic, we have implemented several enhanced wellness measures and screening protocols to help protect everyone within our donor centre environment, including our dedicated volunteers. In our most recent enhanced wellness initiative, we have made face masks a mandatory requirement for everyone while within our centres.

Rest and relaxation in our hospitality areas will continue to be part of the post-donation process but we’re now asking donors to simply take only the refreshments they need and wait until they are outside our centres to consume them. Volunteers will be a key component in ensuring this message gets delivered to every donor in addition continue to monitor the donors on their overall experience and that they have picked up a snack and drink to enjoy after they have left our centres.

Are we telling donors to have water and food before they enter?

We are encouraging donors to eat something salty prior to their appointment and drink 500 mL of water to helps their blood volume and improve their donation experience.

Are there guidelines for running a mobile clinic near the vicinity of a COVID-19 testing centre?

Yes. Please visit our guidelines for mobile clinics and COVID-19 testing sites for more information on COVID-19 testing in an adjacent site (e.g.-in a parking lot); and COVID-19 testing in the same building.

Can I reintroduce promotional items for donors in our collection events?

The introduction of new promotional items must be coordinated through either the Director Donor Acquisition Experience and Performance for national campaigns or the applicable Director, Donor Relations and Collections for local campaigns.

A log of approved promotional items and timing of the campaigns will be maintained by the COVID-19 Operations working group.

For more information on criteria that must be met before promotional items are reintroduced to the donor environment, visit our guidelines for promotional items and donation milestone pins.

I don’t feel comfortable taking public transit. Am I allowed to carpool into work?

We understand that some employees may feel safer carpooling to work with others than taking public transit. While we know that carpooling is necessary for some, we ask you to please recognize that there is a risk of having close contact with others outside of your own home per public health guidance.

If you need to carpool to get to work, or if your supervisor/manager asks you to carpool or use a taxi/rideshare while at work, we recommend the following for all people in the car:
Drivers and passengers should ensure that at least two-metre distancing is maintained whenever possible. In most cases, this will mean that a maximum of one passenger should ride with one driver.

Drivers and passengers should follow public health guidance and safety measures, including wearing a mask while inside the vehicle and practicing proper hand hygiene when entering and leaving the vehicle.

Employees are asked not to drive or ride to work if they are sick. Employees should continue to follow local public health guidance (including provincial/municipal restrictions on carpooling) to ensure your safety and limit the spread of COVID-19.

If you have further questions about safety and carpooling, please contact OHS or your local public health authority.

Are you worried about COVID-19 spreading through the use of fans or portable air conditioners? 

The use of portable fans and portable/directional air conditioner units at fixed donor centres and mobile events should be avoided as they may spread droplets further than 2 meters. 

If temperature concerns arise at our owned/leased sites, please contact Facilities Management to respond. 

If fans are determined to be absolutely required to maintain operations, please review the Guidelines on Use of Portable Fans and Air Conditioner Units