COVID-19 information for employees and volunteers
What employees need to know: Your digest
April 9, 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 email@example.com with your questions and suggestions on how we can better help employees.
Here is the latest.
How we are growing domestic plasma supply for Canadian patients:
With the support of funding from provincial and territorial governments, plans are now underway for Canadian Blood Services to increase plasma collection in more cities across Canada. New plasma donor centres will open in Brampton and Ottawa, Ontario by spring 2022, and plans are underway for a centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba opening in fall of 2022. These three centres will open as new locations in each city; whole blood donor centres will remain open and operational in the same cities.
“Collecting plasma is not a new business for Canadian Blood Services” says our CEO, Dr. Graham Sher. “We have collected plasma at some of our existing blood donor centres for many years and we also recover a small amount of plasma from every whole blood donation. While we’ve been able to increase plasma collection within our current network, and at the new centres in Sudbury, Lethbridge and Kelowna, more needs to be done. Adding another three dedicated plasma donor centres represents the next phase in increasing plasma sufficiency in Canada.” Learn more on Connect.
Thank you for participating in Green Shirt Day: Thank you to everyone who helped us honour Logan Boulet’s legacy by wearing green and spreading awareness about organ and tissue donation during this year’s Green Shirt Day. Here, at Canadian Blood Services, we are celebrating and sharing the undeniable power of organ tissue donation and transplantation all April long. Help us keep the momentum in honour of National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week (April 18 – 25), by downloading our OTDT toolkit full of downloadable graphics to use on your social media accounts, registering for our lunch and learn on April 21 at 12:00 p.m. ET, and sharing inspiring stories coming your way all month long on Connect, blood.ca/stories and via Your Digest.
Take advantage of virtual Goodlife fitness classes: We know how challenging it is to remain active right now. With strict physical distancing guidelines in place in many regions across the country, many gyms and recreational facilities have temporarily closed. Physical fitness is so important for both our bodies and our mental wellbeing. To help, we will be continuing to offer free virtual fitness classes every week! Yoga, Core Balance and Sh’BAM virtual classes taught by seasoned Goodlife instructors are open to all employees and members of their household. Can’t make it live? Weekly classes are available for 24 hours after each live session. To learn more about our class schedule and how to register, visit Connect.
Question of the day: I am a frontline employee, and I curious why I am seeing some of my colleagues who are able to work remotely receiving the COVID-19 vaccine before me. Shouldn’t frontline healthcare workers be receiving prioritized access?
Although we have confirmed prioritized access to the vaccine for our onsite frontline operational teams in most jurisdictions, we are seeing some public health authorities prioritize vaccine appointments based on other eligibility requirements — predominantly age and underlying health conditions.
The government-led vaccination roll-out across the country varies greatly among provinces and from one local public health authority to the next. We know that inevitably, some employees will receive quicker access to the vaccine dependent on where they live, their age and their individual health considerations.
Although the varying approaches to eligibility and sequencing are out of our control, we are assessing the available information daily, and updating the vaccine page on the COVID-19 portal so you can learn of opportunities to book a vaccine appointment.
We also working directly with local jurisdictions who have identified that they will be coordinating regional access to the vaccine for Canadian Blood Services onsite operational employees. In these circumstances, Canadian Blood Services may be contacted by public health to provide information directly regarding our eligible employees and volunteers for group registration. We are making every effort to assist, including contacting affected teams and/or individuals directly or through their manager to secure consent to share information such as their name, contact information and any other information which may be requested by the local public health
We encourage all employees and volunteers to take advantage of the opportunity to be vaccinated in their community outside of Canadian Blood Services’ efforts. Please double-check that you meet the criteria for vaccination in your specific region according to age and individual health considerations. To learn more visit www.blood.ca/employees/vaccines
About your digest
This digest will highlight 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.
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.
Q&A: Stay informed
Wherever you go, friends, family, colleagues and the media are talking about COVID-19. The situation is evolving quickly — the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a global pandemic and the Government of Canada pledged $1B to support activities to respond to COVID-19 across the country.
As the situation evolves rapidly, so does our response. Please continue to check this section as our 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 in the Q&A’s below, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can find an answer for you.
How is Canadian Blood Services responding?
Canadian Blood Services is being proactive to mitigate the risk. Our team of leaders and employees managing this complex and rapidly evolving situation have specialized expertise — and are positioning us well to continue honouring our commitment to collect products and provide products and services for patients.
In addition to following the recommendations put forth by the Public Health Agency of Canada, we have the following tools at our disposal to guide our response to COVID-19:
- Our pandemic plan and declared emergency policy
- An established business continuity management committee (BCMC) that is meeting regularly along with project teams focused on communications, operations, medical and surveillance and employees
- Local emergency response teams (LERTs) that are gathering intelligence from frontline staff, volunteers and donors to ensure we are addressing all areas of concern
- Ongoing media monitoring that will guide our responses to every issue in lockstep with the latest scientific research, epidemiological information and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Are we testing for COVID-19?
Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec have formed a research partnership with the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force to determine the prevalence of the COVID-19 antibody in Canadians’ blood serum. This partnership was announced by the Federal Government on June 17, 2020.
The prevalence of the COVID-19 antibody is an indicator of how many Canadians have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. This study provides donors with yet another reason to give blood — they’re helping create a strong foundation of evidence to support future health policy decisions surrounding COVID-19.
Will donors be notified?
At the current time, the test assay has not been fully validated which means that we don’t know if a positive result is truly positive, or if a negative result is truly negative. This is part of the reason the study is being conducted.
In addition, unlike the other testing we do, such as for HIV or hepatitis, a positive result to the COVID-19 antibody test would not result in the donor requiring medical attention. The antibody’s presence indicates that the individual has already successfully overcome the virus that causes COVID-19.
The purpose of this study is to get a broad sense of how prevalent the disease has been in the population overall, not to determine the status of individual donors. As science evolves, we will continue to re-evaluate this issue within the context of our privacy, legal and ethical framework.
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:
- Public Health Agency of Canada
- World Health Organization
- Centres for Disease Control Prevention
- Canadian Blood Services
If you have a question on COVID-19 that we have not answered, please contact us at email@example.com.
After almost a year into the pandemic, has guidance changed on whether or not employees can conduct personal or business travel?
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) continues to advise against non-essential international travel and most provinces and territories are recommending against non-essential travel outside of the province or region.
We are asking employees to do their part to keep our teams, donors and operations safe. Please follow federal and local public health guidance; and consider whether work or personal travel you would like to pursue is truly essential. Below is an overview of how Canadian Blood Services is handling travel requests:
While domestic business travel is being assessed on a case-by-case basis through our essential travel approval process, at this time we will not be approving international business travel. This decision follows public health guidance and considers current restrictions by our corporate travel insurance partner related to COVID-19-related illnesses outside of Canada. If you have questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The same advice from PHAC applies to international personal travel. It is important to remember that if you are considering personal travel outside of the country, that you check your personal travel insurance before leaving. Following the advice from public health, upon your return you must isolate for 14 days, monitor your symptoms and inform your manager/supervisor. If you are travelling outside of your province or region within Canada, please consult local public health guidance to determine if you should isolate and inform you manager.
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.
Q&A: Collections events
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.
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.
Following the advice of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and international blood operators, mandatory masks, enhanced cleaning and physical distancing measures and wellness screening checkpoints for all individuals are now 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.
What changes are being make to post-donation refreshments?
To support our decision to implement mandatory masks for donors, we will be introducing a new system in our refreshment areas effective May 11. 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.
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.
Now that donors are expected to wear masks, will we still be giving them water?
On Monday, May 11 we will no longer be providing donors with bottled water prior to their donation. This measure supports our decision on mandatory masks and is one of many in place to protect the safety of employees, volunteers and donors.
To ensure our donors have a positive experience, 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.
If a donor asks for a drink upon arrival, can they have one?
Yes. However, we must ask that they consume it outside of the donor centre.
How are you ensuring that donors continue to have a safe donation experience?
Donors will be reminded prior to donation that they should eat a salty snack in addition to drinking lots of water before their arrival.
During their donation, our team will be asking donors to do muscle tension exercises to help prevent post-donation reactions and monitoring them throughout to ensure they are feeling well.
I have a cough due to a pre-existing condition. I am concerned that if I answer “yes” to having a cough at the wellness checkpoint that I will not be permitted to enter the building even through it isn’t related to COVID-19. What should I do?
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. For more information, please speak with your supervisor.
If an employee cannot obtain a letter from their Doctor because of a variety of reasons, we ask that they stay home until they are able to do so. To avoid unnecessary trips outside of the home, we understand that health care providers may be able to email EHS with the letter.
Is personal protective equipment (PPE) being provided to employees in collections environments?
Effective March 31, we have implemented a plan for PPE for staff in collections environments. To learn more about these measures, please visit blood.ca/employees/ppe
What new measures are we implementing on our life buses?
We have implemented new measures to limit the risk of infection on our life buses.
All passengers must go through our active screening checkpoint by the champion of the event to ensure they are healthy.
We have also reduced the number of passengers allowed on each bus, will enforce physical distancing of two metres in-between each person aboard and have enhanced the frequency of cleaning on all surfaces and equipment on board the bus.
How are employees being screened in donor centres?
It is important for our employees who are working on the front line to know that Canadian Blood Services is being proactive to mitigate the risk to both employees and donors. We have implemented the Wellness Checkpoint screening process at sites nationally to now include screening of all staff, contractors, donors, visitors and volunteers. Staff are asked to comply with the Wellness Checkpoint process and to inform their contractors of the Wellness Checkpoint.
In addition, a number of provisions are in effect to ensure that the employees working in our donor centres are healthy.
- Employees are being asked to monitor their symptoms. Any employee who is sick, including but not limited to those who develop flu-like symptoms, is instructed to stay away from the workplace.
- Employees with flu-like symptoms are being asked to contact their physician and public health agency for direction on whether it is safe to come into work.
- Any employee diagnosed with COVID-19 would not return to work until they are fully recovered and cleared to do so by public health.
- Any employee who is sick will be paid at their regular rate of pay for hours that would otherwise be worked, even if they would normally not have paid sick leave, or have paid sick leave that is less than their regular rate of pay
- Employees do not need to provide medical documentation to their managers
- Employees must follow the Public Health Agency of Canada advice to self-isolate for 14 days if returning from international travel. They are not expected to report to work under these circumstances.
Why are we providing infrared thermometers to employees and not donors?
We understand that donors are eager for Canadian Blood Services to replace the Carescape oral thermometers with infrared devices.
Although infrared technology has evolved and considered precise when used as recommended, the long-term accuracy and reliability are not fully understood, and so at this time the Carescape oral thermometer is considered the most accurate way to take temperature.
We are in the process of securing a contactless solution, however it will require an extensive assessment of the technology available to ensure we are meeting Canadian Blood Services operational needs as well as regulatory requirements from Health Canada and can continue to meet patient needs for years to come.
Although this process is underway, it will be some time before new devices are available to take donor temperatures.
While we undergo the evaluation for infrared devices, donors can be assured that enhanced safety measures are in place, including the disinfection of the Carescape device between uses, to keep them, our teams, and ultimately the patients we serve safe.
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.
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.
Q&A: Support for employees
How do I access caregiver leave?
We know that working parents and caregivers continue to face challenges fulfilling professional obligations while being a primary caregiver. With the uncertainty of kids heading back to school, stress and anxiety for these employees is high, so financial supports will continue to be made available.
Caregiver leave at 100 per cent of pay will remain available to employees who are primary caregivers and who as a result cannot perform their duties either virtually or otherwise and who have made reasonable attempts to find alternative care. This extends to employees who choose to keep their children home from school due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
There are options to consider if you are feeling as though you need to choose between work and your family’s wellbeing. Speak with your manager/supervisor to determine if flex-time, reduced hours, or virtual work can be incorporated.
Will quarantine leave apply to issues involving my child now that they are back-to-school? What about if I or some I live with is immune compromised?
As kids head back to school, and the virus evolves, it is important that we continue to offer support for employees who cannot perform their duties because they, or someone they live with, are required to stay home by public health, or are immune compromised.
We will continue to make quarantine leave available to all employees who cannot perform their duties either virtually or otherwise and have made reasonable attempts to arrange for alternative care as applicable, due to the following circumstances:
An employee is directed to stay home by public health because they, or someone they live with has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.
An employee, their child, or someone they are a primary caregiver for has been instructed by public health to quarantine because they have been in contact with someone diagnosed, or potentially diagnosed with COVID-19.
Employees who are immune compromised or live with someone who is immune compromised.
Employees who live with someone who is immune compromised, including elderly individuals, and who choose not to send their children to school as a result.
Are we providing employees with sick leave?
At the onset of the pandemic, we had to respond quickly. We implemented a number of new measures to support employees, including 100 per cent sick leave pay for all staff for any illness with no medical documentation required. Our teams have adjusted, and we now have the capacity to return to some of our regular processes regarding non-COVID-related sick leave.
Effective September 28 the following provisions will apply:
We will continue to encourage employees who are sick to remain off work.
Employees who utilize sick leave for COVID-19 related illnesses, including mental illness, will continue to be paid sick leave at 100 per cent.
Employees who utilize sick leave for reasons other than COVID-19 related illnesses, will be compensated as per their normal sick leave provisions.
As the strain on the medical community is subsiding, medical documentation may now be required to substantiate sick leave.
Payment of sick leave will not exceed the normal waiting period for Long Term Disability benefits for eligible employees.
We understand that this will impact certain employees who are currently on sick leave for non-COVID illnesses and receiving 100 per cent pay. To give these employees time to adapt to this decision, we are not implementing the change until September 28. If you are affected by this decision, we strongly encourage you to speak with your manager for further guidance.
Why are we no longer providing pandemic top-ups?
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were forced to limit our operations and reduce work, predominantly for our frontline teams. We are happy to share that we are operating at or above the 2020–2021 collections plan — meaning, our teams are now back to work as if the pandemic-related reduction of work never occurred.
Now that we have largely resumed normal operations, there is no loss of work for pandemic-related reasons. As a result, we will be discontinuing the pandemic top-up pay effective September 28.
This may affect some employees whose top-up hours of work exceed those that they receive per the 2020–2021 collections plan. To give these employees time to adapt to this decision, we are not implementing the change until September 28. If you are affected by this decision, we strongly encourage you to speak with your manager for further guidance.
Should the pandemic affect our operations further, such as during a second wave of COVID-19, we will review whether the pandemic top-up should be reinstated.
What is our return to office plan?
Virtual work has become the norm for many of us and we are thankful that employees have transitioned to this unexpected change. As we begin to hear about other organizations talking about the future of returning to work, or businesses like Shopify announcing they will remain virtual, we have put together a dedicated team to focus on how we will continue work, while physical distancing mandates are in place and beyond.
The return to office and virtual work plan will consider how we will safely return to work at our sites as well as how we will continue to support those working virtually. Even as provincial restrictions are loosening, the pandemic is still alive and physical distancing will be required for some time. Physical distancing means we cannot have 100% of employees back 100% of the time.
For more information, visit our Return to Office Plan page.
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.
I work from home and I want to get a virtual assessment for my home office. How do I do this?
With many employees now working virtually, it is important keep in mind the effects on your health, safety and productivity when setting up your home workstation.
Employees working from home are encouraged to visit our ergonomics page on Connect to get tools on how to successfully set up a temporary home office. On the page you will find helpful information, including how to properly set up your computer monitor, incorporate a sit/stand desk into your setup and stretching exercises that you can incorporate into your day.
Another exciting feature of the ergonomics page is our virtual assessment tool. To receive a virtual ergonomics assessment personal to your needs, fill out the form and submit it to your manager. From there, your manager will send it to the OHS/EHS team who will schedule a virtual assessment with you.
What if someone I live with, have provided care for, or have spent extensive time with, is suspected of having COVID-19 or has respiratory symptoms and is in self-quarantine? Should I do the same?
Please follow the guidance from OHS/EHS and your local public health unit for direction about the amount of time you must remain away from work. In general, you can expect public health authorities to recommend that you remain away from work for a minimum of 10–14 days. Please inform your supervisor, and when you are eligible to return to work, OHS/EHS (email@example.com) will help ensure that you do not experience issues passing through wellness checkpoints.
I can work virtually, but I don’t have the proper IT equipment to do so. How do I get what I need?
All employees who currently have the ability to work virtually have been encouraged to do so until further notice.
An overview of the tools required to work from home can be found here. This is an excellent resource to make sure you have everything you need to work from home effectively.
If you do not have the tools to work from home, please speak with your manager to put in a request.
Once the request has been approved, you will receive an email from IT inviting you to come to your local office to set-up and bring home your equipment.
Your health and safety are a priority — wellness stations have been set up at the entrance of all Canadian Blood Services facilities with instructions on hand sanitizing and self-screening before interaction with any other individuals.
When you arrive, please ask the front desk to speak with IT field support. For the health and safety of yourself and our IT employees, your interaction will be limited to one member of our IT team and equipment will be taken out of the box in front of you to limit the possible risk of infection. Where possible, we ask that you keep a two-metre distance from other employees.
If you are feeling anxious about coming into your local office to retrieve your equipment, please notify your manager to receive further guidance.
How will employees be informed if a colleague has tested positive for COVID-19?
When we are notified that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, we immediately stand-up a cross-functional case management team which oversees a number of follow-up steps.
One of those steps is to make all associate directors and directors aware of the case so that they can in-turn inform their teams.
In the spirit of transparency, we share as much information about the case as possible recognizing though that we have an important obligation to protect the privacy of employees regarding their personal health information.
Where isolation of other employees might be required, we adhere to public health guidance.
When will gyms be open at Canadian Blood Services facilities?
We know that employees across the country are frustrated that gyms at Canadian Blood Services continue to be closed.
As we enter what is being called a “second wave” in many provinces, our organization is evaluating our processes to ensure we can continue to safeguard our teams, donors and operations.
The closure of gyms was recently reviewed by the COVID-19 Program, where a difficult decision was made to continue to keep our gyms closed across the country.
This decision was not taken lightly. 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:
- Gyms 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 through the winter 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Our organization is committed to maintaining agility and flexibility on our approach to gyms as the COVID-19 environment shifts across the country. Our COVID-19 Program team will continue to assess and revisit decisions on gyms, and other related safety measures to protect our teams, donors and operations.
Did we stop collecting convalescent plasma due to safety concerns?
No. The clinical trial investigators – the scientists leading the study – confirmed that they have collected the data needed to complete their research. As such, there is no longer a need to collect convalescent plasma to support this clinical trial.
There were no safety concerns.
In addition to the collection of convalescent plasma, is Canadian Blood Services planning to lead or participate in other COVID-19 related clinical trials or research related initiatives going forward?
We supplied COVID-19 convalescent plasma to three COVID-19 related clinical trials that have been approved by Health Canada: two adult trials — one treating patients in the early stage of COVID-19 infection and one treating patients, who are severely-ill with the virus — as well as a pediatric trial.
In addition, we are working to help hospital and provincial and federal testing laboratories determine which COVID-19 assays perform the best by supplying samples from donors who have recovered from COVID-19.
Some blood products will also be available to researchers through our Blood4Research Program.
If it works, will we be collecting convalescent plasma long term?
The clinical trials need to be completed first, so we have evidence that this therapy actually works. Internationally, researchers are investigating convalescent plasma, along with other available options or trying to develop new ones to treat, prevent or cure COVID-19. At this time, it is too early to say what could happen or what our role may be longer term.
While we have suspended convalescent plasma collection as of February 2021, now that we have demonstrated that we have the operational capacity to collect convalescent plasma, we may revisit collecting again in the future should another Health Canada approved clinical trial require convalescent plasma for their study.
Have the clinical trials proven that convalescent plasma is an effective treatment for COVID-19 patients?
The trials have reached an important milestone in their investigation. All three trials have discontinued patient enrollment, advising that they have collected the data needed to complete their research. After reviewing the interim results, the CONCOR-1 trial’s independent data safety monitoring committee has determined that the study is unlikely to demonstrate the benefit of convalescent plasma even if more patients are enrolled.
The trial teams are continuing the process of completing the follow-up data for all enrolled patients. The final study results will be released once the complete dataset is available.
Who can I contact if I have further questions?
Employees are asked to connect with their manager or supervisor if they have questions related to the clinical trials.
Should employees have questions that are not addressed through the information that is already available to them on Connect or through their regional leaders, managers and supervisors, they can direct questions to email@example.com for follow up.
Employees are encouraged to visit Connect often as information on all topics related to COVID-19 is updated frequently.