COVID-19 information for employees and volunteers

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Click the questions below to jump to the responses within the Live employee Q&A:

  1. Just wondering if there’s any hope of having the gym in Winnipeg Centre re-open soon?
  2. With the concerning subvariant of COVID-19 BA.5, it has been predicted that in the fall and winter there is likely to be an uptick in cases. Could this impact RTO/hybrid plans? If the booster or a new vaccine to fight these newer variants becomes more available, will it be recommended or required if we are anticipating more people indoors due to return to the office plans? Being fully vaccinated and/or boosters seem to be insufficient with these newer variants.
  3. Are staff still receiving paid sick leave if they are testing positive for COVID-19?
  4. Can we ask that people wear a mask if we are in the same office/meeting room? Staff may have family and friends who are very high-risk.
  5. I heard something about convalescent plasma during the last open board meeting. I thought the last study we did proved it was ineffective, so why are we continuing to study it?
  6. As an employee who works in donor relations, I know that donor recruitment goes hand in hand with marketing. What is the plan on a national level to support the different markets and have a consistent message to Canadians?
  7. It has previously been said that salaries are in line with the median of industry standards. Will there be any consideration to increase salaries for non-unionized workers? This year will effectively be a pay cut for the majority of employees because merit adjustments do not match inflation and the rising cost of living.
  8. Are those who are hired by CBS now required to be fully vaccinated? I forget, do the vaccinations we received last forever or are we continually required to receive a shot?
  9. What is the organization doing to help with collections? National Blood Donor Week was great but we do see lower numbers of donations throughout the summer.
  10. What does Canadian Blood Services have in store for the short- and long-term to improve employee experience? There continue to be added pressures, added responsibilities and extra work that just doesn't seem to end.
  11. With the increasing openings of new pay for plasma sites springing up around the country, how large of an impact do you think this will have on recruiting new donors?
  12. Pride video

What employees need to know: Your Digest

What employees need to know: Your digest Pride Edition

Your digest archives

June 30, 2022

Here are the latest updates from Canadian Blood Services. Every Tuesday and Friday, we invite you to read important updates, valuable information, and inspiring stories from across our organization. Please reach out to communications@blood.ca with your questions and suggestions on how we can better inform and support you.

Here are the latest updates

Important changes to mask and physical distancing measures

Effective July 25, we will suspend mandatory masks and physical distancing for staff, donors and visitors in our buildings, vehicles, and collections events. We have decided to make these measures optional because the majority of Canadians are now fully vaccinated, and most of those who are infected with COVID are not experiencing severe symptoms. Masks will continue to be available to staff, volunteers, visitors and donors. They remain an effective way to prevent the spread of COVID, so we encourage you to wear one if you choose. We ask that you please respect people’s choice to continue wearing a mask or to physical distance from others where possible. Our environments should remain “mask-friendly.” We are here to support you through this transition. Read more details about these changes on Connect or go to the employee portal under “Questions & Answers”. If you have any further questions, please send them to communications@blood.ca.

Update on COVID-19 Leave Support

When the pandemic hit, the organization came together to support employees through the challenges associated with COVID-19. Among those supports were various paid leaves: Caregiver Leave, Quarantine Leave, and COVID-19 related sick leave. With the pandemic landscape changing, there has been a steady decline in the use of these benefits, therefore we will cease offering them to employees as of August 15, 2022. COVID-19 paid leaves may be re-instated in future depending upon circumstances. Details of the removal of COVID-19 leave supports and FAQs can be found on Connect. If you have any questions about the expiry of pandemic leaves, please reach out to communications@blood.ca 

Send us your feedback on the latest town hall (recording now available)

In case you missed it yesterday, you can access the recording of the June 29 town hall on our employee portal or listen to the podcast on Connect on the Go. To improve upon future live events with our CEO, we ask you to please take a moment to provide us with your views by completing this anonymous three-minute survey by Friday, July 8 at 8 p.m. ET.        

Question of the day:

Last year, Canadian Blood Services took a more somber approach to Canada Day, in the wake of the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at the site of several former residential schools. What is the organization doing to mark Canada Day this year, and to keep Indigenous initiatives and reconciliation at the forefront of our minds? 

Last year on Canada Day, we lowered our flags to half-mast to honour the residential school victims and their families. We encouraged thoughtful reflection on what it means to be Canadian, adding perspective and context to what has traditionally been a largely celebratory holiday.   

This July 1, we celebrate our incredible donors, employees, volunteers, partners and stakeholders while acknowledging the great deal of work that still needs to be done to create a more inclusive blood system – and a more inclusive Canada. Thoughtful reflection on national pride is also encouraged, and many resources are available for you to explore on Connect (under “Indigenous inclusion resources”), including Canadian Blood Services’ Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).  

As a national health organization committed to DEI, we have a critical role to play in advancing reconciliation with Indigenous communities and addressing systemic racism and marginalization.  

Using the RAP as a roadmap, we are actively working on organizational strategies and initiatives to strengthen our connection with Indigenous communities in meaningful ways; foster a workplace where Indigenous employees can thrive; and improve representation of Indigenous Peoples among our donor and registrant base.  

For more information about our commitments to reconciliation, visit Connect.

Not all heroes wear capes!

 

Q&A: Removal of Masks and Physical Distancing (effective July 25, 2002)

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When can we stop wearing masks?

We’ve determined it’s the right time for additional adjustments to some of the remaining COVID-19 protocols. Effective July 25, we will suspend mandatory masking for staff, donors, and visitors in our buildings, vehicles and collections events.     

Beginning July 25, you will be able to work without a mask, if you choose to. This applies whether you work in a donor centre, production centre, or an administrative office. This change also applies to our mobile events, trucks and buses.     

Our suspension of this measures aligns with epidemiological advice: that we are at a stage in this pandemic where we can shift from mandatory to optional measures. This can happen because the majority of Canadians are fully vaccinated and illness now caused by COVID-19 is far less severe in most cases. 

Why are we removing these measures now?

The organization’s journey since the beginning of this pandemic has been cautious and measured. All decisions have been made in consultation with our medical and epidemiology experts and at minimum, meeting applicable public health requirements.   

In recent months, we have seen restrictions being eased in many community venues and workplaces across the country. Similarly, over the last few months Canadian Blood Services has rolled back some of our own COVID-19 measures. Wellness checkpoints at our entrances have been removed, in-person recruitment has resumed, media has been allowed back into collection events, we’ve brought snacks and hydration back inside our sites, we’ve determined pandemic leaves are no longer required and we have also reduced our enhanced cleaning measures.   

We’ve determined it’s the right time for additional adjustments to some of the remaining COVID-19 protocols. Our suspension of these measures aligns with epidemiological advice: that we are at a stage in this pandemic where we can shift from mandatory to optional measures. This can happen because the majority of Canadians are fully vaccinated and illness now caused by COVID-19 is far less severe in most cases.  

We have been committed to monitoring and assessing our COVID-19 measures and we have been responsive to changing scientific knowledge and epidemiological conditions. We will continue to closely monitor the epidemiology and scientific knowledge so that we remain agile to reintroduce mandatory masks and physical distancing if necessary.  

Will we still make masks available to employees, donors, volunteers and visitors?

Will we still make masks available to employees, donors, volunteers and visitors?

Does this mean we are going back to normal, and our sites will operate like it did before the pandemic? 

Although we are scaling back on some of our COVID-19 preventative measures, our sites will continue to transition to full occupancy in a managed way. We are committed to both safety and agility for this transition. Masks and physical distancing are still encouraged and welcome. Frequent cleaning will continue on surfaces that come in contact with donors. We ask employees to make sensible choices when booking gatherings and meetings.  Although physical distancing requirements are being removed, our sites will continue to transition to full occupancy in a managed way.  A change such as this requires a lot of work behind the scenes. We appreciate your patience as we make these adjustments.

I thought we considered ourselves a healthcare setting?

Canadian Blood Services is a unique organization. Although we provide life-saving products to patients, we are not a hospital or healthcare setting. We consider ourselves a community setting and determined we are at a stage in this pandemic where we can shift from mandatory to optional measures.

What if we experience another wave in the pandemic? 

We have been committed to monitoring and assessing our COVID-19 measures and we have been responsive to changing epidemiological conditions and scientific knowledge. We will continue to closely monitor the epidemiology and scientific knowledge so that we remain agile to reintroduce mandatory masks and physical distancing if necessary. 

I have a health condition and will need to continue wearing a mask to protect myself. I would feel safer if everyone else around me would to.

Employees who have concerns related to workplace safety matters should discuss them with their supervisors or PCP business partner. The OHS & EHS teams (ask.ohs@blood.ca) are available to respond to any safety concerns. Any concerns related to accommodation needs related to medical considerations can be discussed with EHS Coordinators. Your well-being is a priority, and we are here to support you through this transition.  Everyone is welcome to and encouraged to continue wearing a mask and to physical distance where feasible in our sites. 

I don’t feel comfortable working so close to donors who choose not to wear a mask. 

We understand that after two years of mask-wearing, you may feel uneasy being around others who are not wearing masks. Employees are encouraged to wear masks when they are close to other people. Being a fully vaccinated workplace, and knowing that the majority of donors are also vaccinated supports epidemiological advice that we are at a stage in this pandemic where we can pull back on these requirements.

Employees who have concerns related to workplace safety matters should discuss them with their supervisors or PCP business partner. The OHS & EHS teams (ask.ohs@blood.ca) are available to respond to any safety concerns. Your well-being is a priority, and we are here to support you through this transition. Canadian Blood Service has a number of programs available to help employees, including free access to licensed mental health professionals, mindfulness tools and monthly wellness workshops. 

For more information on these programs and how we are supporting employee wellbeing, visit  https://connect.blood.ca/about-you/your-well-being.

We are removing these measures, right before our pandemic leave supports expire. What if I get sick with COVID-19 and need to access paid leaves?

With the pandemic landscape changing, we recently reviewed the various COVID-19 paid leaves and determined these leaves are no longer necessary and can be removed. COVID-19 paid leaves may be re-instated in future depending upon circumstances.    

People, Culture and Performance (PCP) and Employee Health Services (EHS) have been monitoring the utilization rates of the COVID-19 leaves. Over several months, the rate of usage has declined steadily. This could be attributed to a decline in COVID-19 illness and severity of symptoms, shorter periods of quarantine requirements and being a fully vaccinated workplace.      

Various paid leaves still exist to support employees for a variety of scenarios, including sick leave, appointment leave, family leave and more. Please refer to your applicable collective agreement or non-union terms and conditions of employment. For more information on your situation and whether you are eligible for other paid sick leave, please reach out to your PCP Business Partner.

What will removing physical distancing measures look like in our collection sites? Will we be able to add more donor beds and welcome walk-ins? 

As of July 25, you will no longer be required to maintain 2 metres of physical distance from others while working. We encourage you to still consider physical distancing from others where feasible but it is no longer mandatory or enforced.  

This applies whether you work in a donor centre, production centre, or an administrative office.  This change also applies to our mobile events, trucks and buses.

A change such as this requires a lot of work behind the scenes. We appreciate your patience as we make these adjustments to implement this change. Although you may see an immediate change in physical distancing as of July 25, it will take time for the organization to adjust some aspects of our operations. 

Our integrated supply chain planning teams will look at opportunities to increase beds in our collection events and open up more appointments. We will look at adding more chairs and tables in our refreshment areas, and pre-donation snacks and hydration will be able to be consumed inside our sites. 

Although we will be removing physical distancing requirements, we do not plan to bring back walk-in appointments. However, we do have same-day appointments which we will promote to donors who are looking to donate blood that day. Over the last two years, we have recognized a benefit to keeping an “appointments only” policy. Appointments allow prospective donors to complete a pre-screening questionnaire before they arrive at a donor centre, allowing them to self-defer if necessary. It helps manage donor flow and improved the check-in process and we have received very positive feedback from our frontlines about this silver lining to the pandemic.  

What will removing physical distancing measures look like in our administrative sites? Will we be able to welcome more people into the office? 

As of July 25, you will no longer be required to maintain a 2-metre physical distance from others while working. We encourage you to still consider physical distancing from others where feasible but it is no longer mandatory or enforced. This applies whether you work in a donor centre, production centre, or an administrative office. This change also applies to our mobile events, trucks and buses.   

Removing physical distancing restrictions means more space will be available in our break rooms, bathrooms and meeting spaces. Although physical distancing requirements are being removed, our sites will continue to transition to full occupancy in a managed way. We are committed to both safety and agility for this transition. A change such as this requires a lot of work behind the scenes. Although you may see an immediate change in physical distancing as of July 25, it will take time for the organization to adjust some aspects of our operations. We appreciate your patience as we make these adjustments to implement this change.

What if we start seeing an increase in positive COVID-19 cases among employees and absenteeism?

Our suspension of these measures aligns with epidemiological advice: that we are at a stage in this pandemic where we can shift from mandatory to optional measures. This can happen because the majority of Canadians are fully vaccinated and illness now caused by COVID-19 is far less severe in most cases.  

When the large spikes in positive cases resulted in employee absenteeism during the Omicron wave, we were agile and adjusted. If we see an increase in absenteeism after removing our mask and physical distancing requirements, we will be prepared to respond. We do not anticipate a significant increase in staff absenteeism at this stage of the pandemic.  

Various paid leaves still exist to support employees for a variety of scenarios, including sick leave, appointment leave, family leave and more. Please refer to your applicable collective agreement or non-union terms and conditions of employment. For more information on your situation and whether you are eligible for other paid sick leave, please reach out to your PCP Business Partner.  

We no longer actively screen donors upon entry and now we are removing measures that are supposed to prevent transmission in our sites. Aren’t you worried about risks? 

Our suspension of these measures aligns with epidemiological advice: that we are at a stage in this pandemic where we can shift from mandatory to optional measures. This can happen because the majority of Canadians are fully vaccinated and illness now caused by COVID-19 is far less severe in most cases. The organization’s journey since the beginning of this pandemic has been cautious and measured. All decisions have been made in consultation with our medical and epidemiology experts. The decision to remove masks was not taken lightly and all risks, opportunities and challenges were considered and analyzed.   

We have been committed to monitoring and assessing our COVID-19 measures and we have been responsive to changing epidemiological conditions and scientific knowledge. We will continue to closely monitor the epidemiology and scientific knowledge so that we will remain agile to reintroduce mandatory masks and physical distancing if necessary.  

Does this mean the gyms will reopen?

The plan to re-open our fitness rooms has been underway with the intention to open site-by-site over the summer months, depending on site readiness. Ventilation and air quality is being assessed and a booking system is being developed. Lifting physical distancing requirements does not mean we will open up all of the administrative spaces and fitness rooms, right away. We are assessing each site’s fitness room with ventilation system specifications before it can be used by multiple people.    

We will provide updates on the opening dates and booking procedures as soon as possible and we thank everyone for their continued patience as we work on this important aspect of the Return to Office project.  

Does this mean our regular canteen service will resume? 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, canteen service that existed in three sites (Alta Vista, Brampton and Winnipeg) was impacted. The changes in 2 metre distancing and masking will be communicated and go-forward plans will be made.  We appreciate your patience.  

I’m not required to wear a mask to do my job, but my role takes me into other external sites.  

If your work takes you into a setting that requires masking (for example, a hospital) we ask that you respectfully comply with that site’s requirements.

If employees, volunteers, contractors and donors decide they want to wear a mask, do they still have to wear one of ours? 

No, if anyone chooses to wear a mask, they are free to wear their own. However, we will have surgical masks available and would encourage people to take ours if they’d like. 

Will the wellness poster checkpoint and handing out of the masks be self-serve since they are optional? 

There are a number of details, including these, that we are still working through. A change such as this requires a lot of work behind the scenes. Although you may see an immediate change to some things as of July 25, it will take time for the organization to adjust other aspects of our operations. We appreciate your patience as we make these adjustments to implement this change. We will continue to provide updates as they become available.  

Some bathroom stalls and sinks have been closed off to allow for physical distancing. Will all functioning sinks and stalls be available now? 

As of July 25, you will no longer be required to maintain 2 metres of physical distance from others while working. Removing physical distancing restrictions means more space will be available in our break rooms, bathrooms and meeting spaces. Although physical distancing requirements are being removed, we will assess how this will impact our sites and how we can safely manage these changes.  

A change such as this requires a lot of work behind the scenes. Although you may see an immediate change in physical distancing as of July 25, it will take time for the organization to adjust some aspects of our operations. We appreciate your patience as we make these adjustments to implement this change.  

Some furniture was moved out of our breakroom so that people would be seated further apart. Will the chairs or other furniture be returned? And can we sit together during breaks and lunch? 

As of July 25, you will no longer be required to maintain 2 metres of physical distance from others while working. Removing physical distancing restrictions means more space will be available in our break rooms, bathrooms and meeting spaces. Although physical distancing requirements are being removed, we will assess how this will impact our sites and how we can safely manage these changes.  

A change such as this requires a lot of work behind the scenes. Although you may see an immediate change in physical distancing as of July 25, it will take time for the organization to adjust some aspects of our operations. We appreciate your patience as we make these adjustments to implement this change.  

Can we host social events for staff now?

As of July 25, you will no longer be required to maintain 2 metres of physical distance from others while working. Removing physical distancing restrictions means more space will be available in our break rooms, bathrooms and meeting spaces. Although physical distancing requirements are being removed, we will assess how this will impact our sites and how we can safely manage these changes.  

A change such as this requires a lot of work behind the scenes. Although you may see an immediate change in physical distancing as of July 25, it will take time for the organization to adjust some aspects of our operations. We appreciate your patience as we make these adjustments to implement this change.   

Are the acrylic barriers at our donor centres in screening, and refreshment and waiting areas remaining on site or will these be removed with these changes? 

There are a number of details, including these, that we are still working through. A change such as this requires a lot of work behind the scenes. Although you may see an immediate change to some things as of July 25, it will take time for the organization to adjust other aspects of our operations. We appreciate your patience as we make these adjustments to implement this change. We will continue to provide updates as they become available.  

Will these changes allow Logistics to return to normal capacity on their transportation vehicles without masking and distancing requirements? 

There are a number of details, including these, that we are still working through. A change such as this requires a lot of work behind the scenes. Although you may see an immediate change to some things as of July 25, it will take time for the organization to adjust other aspects of our operations. We appreciate your patience as we make these adjustments to implement this change. We will continue to provide updates as they become available. 

Who can I talk to if I have concerns?  

Changes to routines, especially after the last two years, can feel uncomfortable. Employees who have concerns related to workplace safety matters should discuss them with their supervisors or PCP business partner. The OHS & EHS teams (ask.ohs@blood.ca) are available to respond to any safety concerns and you can email any questions or concerns to communications@blood.ca. Your well-being is a priority, and we are here to support you through this transition. Canadian Blood Service has a number of programs available to help employees, including free access to licensed mental health professionals, mindfulness tools and monthly wellness workshops.

For more information on these programs and how we are supporting employee wellbeing, visit  https://connect.blood.ca/about-you/your-well-being.

Q&A: General COVID-19 Information

When can we resume normal activities, like recruitment events, special events in donor centres, etc.?

The organization continues to navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic landscape, and as always, we constantly review and revise as necessary our COVID-19 protocols and safety measures.

As of April 25, we are moving on to Phase 2 of in-person donor recruitment, which expands recruitment opportunities and events inside donor centres to support blood, plasma and stem cell recruitment. The Phase 2 Recruitment Guidance and revised Visitor Guidelines are available for review on the employee portal. Local donor relations, plasma and stem cell teams should continue working with their regional communications specialist to ensure all COVID-19 measures are being followed. If COVID-19 measures cannot be met, then recruitment and media events must remain virtual.

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.

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.

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’s (PHAC) travel health notices outline potential health risks to Canadian travellers and recommend ways to help reduce them. No matter where you plan to travel, make sure you check the Travel Advice and Advisories (TAA) page for your destination.  

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 business travel requests:   

Business travel   

Business travel remains an important part of our work at Canadian Blood Services. It enables relationship building, understanding of our operations on a deeper level, strengthens connections with co-workers and stakeholders and allows us to deliver on projects nationwide.  

The organization has now entered a pandemic transition phase and as we move into the weeks and months ahead and continue to see government restrictions lifted, we recognize that there is work that is important to our operations that may require travel.   

COVID-19 continues to circulate, and risks will vary by the variant in circulation, from one destination to another, and for one individual over another. Therefore, every effort should be made to conduct business virtually, however, when travel is considered the best option, please follow the guidelines below.  

SPECIAL COVID-19 PANDEMIC AUTHORIZATION IS NO LONGER REQUIRED 

  • Necessary, important and essential travel is allowed.  
  • Rather than travel, consider alternate methods to achieve your business objectives.  
  • If travel is required, approval will be obtained through a standard Concur Request, additional authorization is no longer required.   
  • Before travelling consider the following:  

TRAVELLERS: 

  • Consider your own health risk profile for serious outcomes due to COVID-19. Monitor yourself for symptoms before you travel. If uncertain, consult your doctor or other medical advisor. Do not travel if you feel it is unsafe to do so.  
  • Near the travel date, review COVID-19 measures at all points of your travel.  
  • Determine whether there are entry and exit requirements or restrictions at your departure and destination. Is testing required? Is there a form that needs to be submitted to a governing body before you travel? Are vaccinations and/or boosters required?  

APPROVERS: 

  • COVID-19 is still circulating and presents a risk to our travelers. Is this travel necessary, important or essential or could the work be completed remotely instead of traveling?  
  • Consider the state of the pandemic epidemiology in the locations of travel and any restrictions that may affect the traveler.  
  • Some employees are hesitant or nervous about traveling. Please ensure that the employees are comfortable with traveling for business currently.  

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

After providing pandemic-related leaves for the last 28 months, we recently reviewed the various COVID-19 related paid leaves and determined these leaves were no longer necessary and can be removed.  PCP and EHS have been monitoring the utilization rates of the COVID-19 leaves. Over several months, the rate of usage has declined steadily. This could be attributed to a decline in COVID-19 illness and severity of symptoms, shorter periods of quarantine requirements and being a fully vaccinated workplace.

Various paid leaves still exist to support employees for a variety of scenarios, including sick leave, appointment leave, family leave and more. Please refer to your applicable collective agreement or non-union terms and conditions of employment for a description of paid leaves. For more information on your situation and whether you are eligible for other paid leave, please reach out to your PCP Business Partner.

Are gym spaces within CBS facilities re-opening?

Fitness rooms will remain closed at this time, as we assess air quality standards for compliance and build an integrated plan for the safe use of these spaces within our sites.  

We are undertaking a detailed review of fitness rooms and gyms spaces. This will involve the following steps: 

  • Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) requirements are being assessed for Fitness areas. There are two types of ventilation standards – one for high level activities (aerobics for example) and another or lower level activities (such as weights). These standards set levels of ventilation, filtration (or outdoor/ fresh air) and humidification levels to align with the size of space and number of occupants. Achieving compliance provides the base recommended level of air quality for a healthy environment. This will be in addition to the compliance to IAQ standards of our office spaces being put into place for RTO. 
  • The sites are being assessed for cross contamination to adjacent areas 
  • The occupancy and use of the space will be assessed for upgraded or controls needed to safely occupy the spaces including number of occupants and turn over procedures  
  • Protocols will be developed for users of these spaces. This will involve engagement with the staff on risks, roles and responsibilities 
  • We are also looking at developing a booking system that will consider and address the size of each gym and capacity limits.  

Once the impact and feasibility of opening has been assessed we will be able to share further information on openings. We expect to share an update next month. 

We recognize and appreciate that the availability of fitness space is important for employees’ physical and mental health, so it is understandable that this may be a source of frustration for some. We are disappointed that we are still not able to open these spaces sooner. 

In the meantime, if you are feeling overwhelmed and need a break for physical exercise, we encourage you to speak with your leader to build physical activity, such as a break for a walk outside, into your workday.

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. 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, evidence is emerging that even fully vaccinated individuals may still be able to be infected and transmit COVID-19. This, along with positive case count and emerging variants, will inform our own policies and guidance going forward. We will continue to evaluate practices, such as mask wearing, as the pandemic evolves.

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, regular cleaning measures and physical distancing measures are in place to make sure individuals entering are healthy.

Our team is consistently monitoring and assessing our COVID-19 measures. Click here for an overview of the measures we have put in place.

Why are we changing our cleaning practices?

As we continue to navigate the changing COVID-19 pandemic landscape, we constantly review and revise our safety measures and protocols. The COVID-19 Program, informed by the Surveillance Medical Issues (SMI) working group has determined that we can safely reduce some of our enhanced cleaning measures. Based on evidence, the SMI working group, made up of our medical and epidemiology experts, concluded the risk of COVID-19 transmission through surfaces is very low. Enhanced cleaning protocols implemented at the start of the pandemic were reassessed and it was determined that we can return to pre-pandemic levels of routine cleaning with the exception of a few surfaces donors touch, which will continue to be cleaned more frequently.

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  Visitor Vaccination Policy and Guidelines for Visitors to Donor Centres when considering publicity or recruitment events at your location.   

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?

Yes. Promotional items can now be reintroduced in our donor environments.

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

Are there travel deferrals related to COVID-19?

At the start of the pandemic, people who have returned from travel outside Canada within the previous 14 days have been ineligible to donate blood or plasma. This was put in place to align with requirements or recommendations to self-isolate after travel. With public health restrictions changing when it comes to travel, we made a submission to remove this 14-day temporary donor deferral from the Donor Selection Criteria Manual (DSCM) for travel outside of Canada as it relates to COVID-19. A request was submitted to Health Canada for an expedited review, and we have received approval The deferral is removed from the Donor Selection Criteria Manual (DSCM) along with references on our website, posters at our donor events, and all donor communication.

Q&A: Donor snacks and hydration

Why are we bringing back snacks and hydration? Why now?

To help limit the spread of COVID-19, pre-donation snacks and hydration offered on-site were suspended and have been since the beginning of the pandemic. Following their donation, donors were asked to wait in our rest area, and then take their refreshments and consume them after leaving. 

Over the past two years, medical surveillance has measured a notable increase in severe negative donor reactions. This includes an increase in faints and other related injuries. We are committed to creating a positive donor experience and taking steps to reduce donor reactions. By re-introducing hydration and snacks, we can help improve donor wellness.  

Through feedback we have learned that donors who have a negative donation experience express that they may not return.  

It is important that we balance donor wellness, while continuing to adhere to our COVID-19 safety measures. We can safely resume providing snacks and hydration for our donors on site. Pre-donation snacks and drinks will be available at all sites during the month of May, and we will resume allowing donors to consume post-donation refreshments on-site starting June 1. 

How will we resume offering snacks and hydration when a donor arrives? 

Sites can set up tables and signs at the entrance area. When a donor arrives, the employee can ask if they have already had a snack and drink before they came in. If not, the employee may offer them a snack and drink and explain the benefits. If the donor chooses to take a snack and drink, the employee will ask the donor to sanitize their hands, serve themselves and instruct the donor to consume them outside of the site, then return for their appointment when they are done.  

Won’t this interrupt the flow of the process, and cause hold ups and late appointments? 

We recognize that asking donors to take their snacks and drink outside to consume may add time to their check-in process. We will strengthen our messaging to donors through our various communications and marketing channels to encourage them to plan ahead and either have their snack and drink before they arrive, or build in extra time if they take it when they arrive. We are confident donors will act accordingly and responsibly to ensure they are on time. We will also rely on our donor centre supervisors to monitor and report back if there is a pattern in disruptions due to this implementation and will adjust as necessary. The wellness of our donors is important, and we are hopeful we can resume this step with minimal impact to established process flow. 

When they return, will they have to go through wellness again? 

When the donor returns after finishing their snack and drink, they will be asked to clean their hands again and put on a new mask, then continue on with the donation process. 

What if a donor doesn’t want to leave the site to consume their snacks and drink when they arrive? 

We understand this extra step may be inconvenient or perhaps there is bad weather outside, or they are running late. Please explain to them the benefit of having a salty snack and drink before they donate and let them know that they won’t miss their appointment. Explain that in our entrance areas, it is very difficult for donors and employees to remain physically distanced if they were to remove their masks to consume their snack and drink. Suggest they find a sheltered spot, such as their vehicle or other available shelter. If they are still unsatisfied, give them the option to continue without their snack and drink. It is not mandatory, but recommended.  

Will we increase staffing levels at the front to support this change? 

No, snacks and drinks will be available at the front for donors to self-serve. The employee will already be there for the wellness check and registration. 

When can a donor remove their mask to consume a snack and drink? 

Although mask mandates have been lifted in most areas, we have decided for the time being that masks will remain mandatory in our environments, except for a limited number of exceptions. It is not always possible to maintain the required two-meter physical distancing in our sites. At this time, if a donor chooses to consume a snack and drink before they donate, we ask they do so outside, then come back in. When consuming post-donation refreshments, donors will be permitted to temporarily remove their masks to consume their refreshments while they rest. Donors are required to sit in our refreshment area, where the chairs are 6 feet apart, and put their mask back on when they are done.

How will donors consume their snack and drink while resting in the refreshment area? 

Post-donation refreshment will look the same as it is now, but rather than asking donors to consume their refreshments after they leave, we will allow them to temporarily remove their masks while seated in the donor refreshment area to consume their snacks and beverage. They are still required to sit 6 feet apart and put their mask back on when they are done. Volunteers or employees overseeing the refreshment area will communicate these guidelines to donors.

I am worried about having donors remove their masks while in the refreshment area. 

We understand that changes to our routines, especially after the last two years of stringent COVID-19 measures, can feel uncomfortable. It is important that the guidelines for safely consuming refreshments after donation, while adhering to our COVID-19 measures, is communicated clearly to donors. Re-introducing refreshments to donors within these parameters is a safe solution that should help reduce donor reactions, while still addressing the risk of transmission of COVID-19. 

We welcome your feedback and encourage all employees to share any questions or concerns they have while at work. Please speak with your supervisor or manager about your concerns, who will bring them to OHS & EHS, OHS and/or PCP.  You may also reach out to OHS & EHS directly by emailing Ask.OHS@blood.ca. 

What if a donor decides they do not want to consume their post-donation snack and drink inside? 

If a donor does not want to consume their snack and drink inside, they are welcome to stay and rest and will be encouraged to eat and drink when they leave the site. 

What do snacks and water do for a donor?  

We encourage donors to eat something prior to their appointment and drink 500 mL of water. This will prepare donors’ bodies to replace the blood they’re about to donate and improves the donation experience. Resting, eating and drinking after donation also helps with recovery. These measures reduce the likelihood that donors will feel faint or have what’s known as a vasovagal reaction (i.e., actually fainting). 

If a donor leaves to consume their snack and drink and they are removed from the concierge, what do I do? 

Concierge has a 20-minute grace period from the donor’s appointment time. If the system removes the donor from the queue, please add the donor back in so they can continue with the process. 

What kind of environmental impact will this have and how are we addressing it? 

Due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19, we have had to close on-site water fountains and return to a single-use water bottle model for our refreshment stations. At this time, we will not be opening up on-site water fountains to donors who bring refillable water bottles. We will offer bottles of water at the front of the donor centre. 

To balance safety measures with our environmental sustainability strategic plan, we have sourced a “green” vendor for our single-use water bottles, Ice River Green Bottle Co. This Canadian company sources its own water and offers a bottle that is 100% recyclable, making it the greenest choice for a single-use bottle. It is the first beverage company in North America to operate in a closed loop: it buys plastic from municipal recycling programs across the country and uses it to manufacture bottles. Additionally, the company’s bottling facilities send no waste to landfills. 

Which donors does this apply to? 

Snacks and water will be made available in all collection sites -fixed, mobile, apheresis and plasma. We recognize that in some programs like apheresis, it is important that donors are not delayed. Please have a discussion with those donors about the importance of pre-hydration and salty snacks so they can allow enough time.