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. I recently heard from Graham's most recent blog post that we are looking at using artificial intelligence. Could you possibly share how that's going and in what ways we plan on using AI?
  2. I wanted to follow up on the important issue of period poverty and having a supply of period products available for staff/volunteers/donors. Has there been a decision made on whether these products will be made available at Canadian Blood Services? This is an important equity issue.
  3. I understand that we are going to be removing the acrylic barriers that were installed for COVID. Some of us would prefer they stay up. How do we make this request?
  4. Shortly after getting media attention in support of organ and tissue donation (ie. Green Shirt Day) there has been media coverage about restrictions to eligibility for MSM donors. Is there any information you can share in regard to that topic?
  5. What is the expected benefit of having all groups return to the office 40% of the time? There are definitely teams that don't need direct contact with one another. Not to mention the frustration of using and arranging a new work space with every visit to the site. It certainly isn't an efficient way to organize a day or week.
  6. What are your thoughts on TikTok and should we be using it on our phones?
  7. I was just reading an article about the developments in lab grown blood and I was thinking it might be interesting to hear Graham’s thoughts on this. What are your thoughts on lab grown blood and what could it mean for the blood system?31:01
  8. I am wondering since the rebranding – has the percentage gone up regarding the public knowing about Canadian Blood Services – whereas they thought Red Cross was still the blood donation collector?  
  9. If my city has multiple CBS locations, can I book space and work out of any location, even if different from my pre-COVID location?  
  10. Has Canadian Blood Services experienced a cyber attack in the past and if one should occur, would you let employees know?  
  11. Are there exemptions for the new hybrid policy? Will those hired remotely be expected to come in 40% of the time?
  12. Will our public /staff washrooms in our fixed donor centres be changed to be gender neutral; not with just signage but updated to be more inclusive?
  13. Today we are asking employees to come into the office 40% per week, will this eventually turn into 100% in the future? I think it's important that EMT is as transparent as possible.  
  14. Is there any discussions at the executive level regarding 4-day work weeks at CBS?  
  15. Will there be disciplinary action if employees refuse to come in for 40 per cent of their time?
  16. With the return of staff to the office, are there plans to upgrade the quality of the WIFI at the various locations so that staff are able to function efficiently? Some of the sites had upgrades last year however the quality of the WIFI has not improved whatsoever.
  17. I've noticed that there have been several leaders with long tenures at CBS who have recently retired or soon will be. Are there steps CBS is taking toward leadership succession planning?
  18. Will IT/Richard be looking at updating our technology to keep up with the times? My laptop is old and the battery doesn't last very long.  
  19. What are our plans to celebrate pride month this year?
  20. Are there any plans to deploy more devices to sites to support automation efforts (LMS, eCDI, online DSCM, etc.)

What employees need to know: Your Digest

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May 26, 2023

Here are the latest updates

Increasing in-person presence: Deadline to submit exemption requests June 9 

Our organization is evolving to a hybrid work environment that intentionally balances the need for connection and collaboration, and a desire among employees for flexibility in how they do their work. To drive long-term and sustainable innovation we are focused on the role that social connections play to drive organizational excellence by asking all employees to increase their in-person presence to a minimum of 40 per cent.  

We recognize that there may be extenuating factors that may prevent some employees from doing so. Guidelines for exemptions are available. We ask that all exemption requests be sent by leaders via email to hybrid.requests@blood.ca by Friday, June 9. If you are unsure if you or a member of your team qualifies, please err on the side of caution and submit a request. This is to help create equitable decisions for exemptions across the organization. PCP business partners will be managing the intake and examine requests on a case-by-case basis. To learn more about how we as an organization are evolving our hybrid work environment, visit Connect

Kidney Paired Donation program hits 1,000 transplant milestone 

1,000 patients in Canada have received kidney transplants thanks to the kidney exchange program led by Canadian Blood Services, in collaboration with living donation and transplant programs across Canada. The Kidney Paired Donation (KPD) program connects living donor programs across the country, enabling them to achieve together what no jurisdiction can do exclusively on its own. Read more about the milestone on blood.ca

Five ways plasma helps patients 

Last week, we asked you to help us shine a light on the need for donors. That includes plasma donors. If you’re not familiar with the vital role of plasma in our health system, take a moment to read this blood.ca story. It’s a great reminder of why what we do matters. And by sharing that information with friends and family, you can inspire more new donors to join Canada’s Lifeline.   

Book your appointment to donate today and share how you’re shining a light 

Across Canada, thousands more new and existing donors are needed to ensure there is an acceptable level of blood and plasma products to meet ongoing patient needs. As employees, we can help make all the difference. We are asking employees to book and rebook appointments to donate. You can also motivate your friends, family and networks to do the same. Please share what you’re doing to help shine a light on the need for new donors with a photo on Yammer, or by submitting your photo and story to communications@blood.ca. We’ll be sharing a roundup of inspiring employees and their commitment to Canada’s Lifeline and the ongoing Shine a Light campaign on Connect in the coming weeks. 

Learnings from the Alliance of Blood Operators 

The Alliance of Blood Operators (ABO) is a network of not-for-profit blood operators who recognize the benefits of global collaboration and collective action. Earlier this year, the ABO board met in Melbourne, Australia. Our CEO, Dr. Graham Sher, shared many takeaways from the meeting. Read more about the learnings on Connect

Reminder: Your Digest is going weekly in June 

You asked. We listened. Beginning in June, you’ll receive the Your Digest newsletter once per week on Thursdays. The first weekly edition will be sent out next week on Thursday, June 1. 

Shine a light

 

 

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I’m concerned about my well-being during cold and flu season. What can I do?

  • There are very simple things that you can do at work, at home, and in your community: 
    • Stay home when you are sick. If you are sick or have symptoms of illness and need to be around others at home or in your community, wearing a mask will help prevent transmission of virus.
    • Always practice good hand-hygiene. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap or use hand sanitizer.
    • Stay up-to-date with the vaccines that are available to you, including COVID-19 boosters and flu-shots.
    • Consider wearing a mask indoors if you are in close contact with others. 
  • 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.

Why aren’t masks mandatory?

At this time, there are no mandated changes to public health measures, and similarly Canadian Blood Services is not making any changes to requirements or policies. As we have since 2020, we will continue to monitor epidemiology and public health directives. 

Are masks available to employees, donors, volunteers and visitors?

Yes. Masks, including N95s, will still be available to staff, volunteers, visitors and donors. 

I thought we considered ourselves a healthcare setting?

Canadian Blood Services is a unique organization. Although we provide life-saving products to hospitals, 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 physically 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 you may feel uneasy being around others who are not wearing masks. N95 masks are available to all employees and you prefer to ask for one, if you are concerned about being in close contact with others.  

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. 

What if I get sick with COVID-19 and need to access paid leaves? 

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

When the large spikes in positive cases resulted in employee absenteeism during the Omicron wave, we were agile and adjusted. 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.  

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, surgical masks and N95s are available and we encourage people to take ours if they’d like.  

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? 

We are assessing where we currently have acrylic barriers throughout our sites and determining where to keep them or remove them, depending on how and where they are being used. 

What if a donor asks me to wear a mask? 

It is entirely up to each individual employee to decide if they want to wear a mask when interacting with a donor.  If you decide to not wear a mask, explain that wearing a mask is a personal choice in our site at this time. The donor is welcome to wear a mask and we can also provide them with an N95 if they prefer. You may let them know that Canadian Blood Services is a fully vaccinated workplace. Evidence shows that transmission likely occurs with prolonged exposure (at least 15 minutes) and that our staff are rarely in close proximity to donors for that amount of time.

Can food and beverages be consumed anywhere within our collection events now? 

Yes, food and beverages can be consumed anywhere within our collection events. This includes the pre-donation salty snacks and water, and the post-donation refreshments. Donors are also welcome to hydrate throughout the donation process. 

Can we re-introduce coffee and foods that are not pre-packaged?

Yes, those donor events and sites that choose to serve coffee and open food again are welcome to.   

Is the rapid screening program still active? 

Yes, the voluntary rapid screening program continues to be available for any employee who works on-site. More information on the program can be found on the employee portal. 

Can we resume offering mugs to donors?

Yes, now that we can serve coffee once again, we can provide re-usable coffee mugs to donors.  

Who can I talk to if I have concerns?  

Changes to routines, especially after the last few 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

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 should advise Employee Health Services. 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. 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. 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. 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 travelers 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.  

What if I get sick with COVID-19 and need to access paid leaves? 

Various paid leaves 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 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

Q&A: Collections events

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What enhanced measures are in place in our donor centres?

Although no longer required, masks are welcome in our environments and available to anyone who chooses to wear them.     

At this time, it is not mandatory to maintain six feet of distance, but  individuals may choose to consider physically distancing from others where possible while at our facilities and collection events.     

Hand sanitizer is available throughout our collection spaces.    

Before entering our facilities and collection events, everyone must review our wellness questions available at the entrance. Donors, employees/volunteers are asked not to enter if they are feeling unwell, experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or said ‘yes’ to any of the questions on our wellness poster.   

High-touch surfaces are cleaned daily and donor beds are wiped down after each use.     

Employees and volunteers at Canadian Blood Services are vaccinated against COVID-19. To help safeguard our environment, we strongly encourage all donors entering our collections events to be fully vaccinated too.     

Thank you doing your part to limit the spread of COVID-19 and for respecting each person’s choice to wear a mask or practice physical distancing.   

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 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.

Am I allowed to carpool into work?

Yes, employees can carpool to and from work using any necessary precautions they feel comfortable with, such as masking and limiting passengers. Employees should continue to follow local public health guidance and not come to work if they are sick.

Are fans allowed back in collection events? 

The use of portable fans and portable / directional air conditioner units (excluding central air conditioners) at any Canadian Blood Services site (including fixed donor centres and mobile collection events) should be avoided.  If fans are determined to be absolutely required to maintain operations, please review the Guidelines on Use of Portable Fans and Air Conditioner Units. If temperature concerns arise at our owned / leased sites, please contact Facilities Management to respond.  

Q&A: Donor snacks and hydration

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. 

Q&A: Healthy workplace

With public health indicating that surging respiratory illness have strained the health care system, why are we asking leaders to return to in-person work at a minimum of 40% by January?

As you’ve seen in the news and heard from public health representatives, the impact of this years’ influenza season is changing daily. We need to remain adaptable to ensure that above all else, we are safeguarding the patients we serve, donors and employees.  

At Canadian Blood Services, we are seeing the impact of cold and flu season in our bookings and the health of our employees and their families. We are asking leaders to lead with head and heart and use a common-sense approach when choosing to conduct in-person work in an office or in a community space.  

Above all else, if you or your family is sick – stay home. Your in-person presence is not being monitored and you will not be penalized for doing so.  

If you are feeling well and choose to come onsite, please ensure that you are practicing good hand-hygiene, consider staying up to date with vaccines, including COVID-19 boosters and flu shots and consider wearing a mask indoors if you are in close contact with others. N95’s and rapid screening are also available for all employees coming onsite. 

Our vision for the future of hybrid work is meant to nourish and sustain our strong organizational culture of engagement and inspire collaboration with colleagues for intentional purposes. We recognize that we will need to remain nibble and adaptable with this aspiration. We will continue to monitor the situation and align our practices with guidance from public health. 

If you have questions or concerns about your personal situation, reach out to your leader or email Employee.Experience@blood.ca.  

Why are we talking about cold and flu season? Aren’t we still concerned about COVID-19?

Cold and flu season is underway earlier this year than in previous years, and in many communities, public health has indicated that surging respiratory illnesses have strained the pediatric health care system. The public is being asked to take collective action to help protect the most vulnerable in our communities and ease the strain on the health system.  

There are very simple things that you can do at work, at home, and in your community to be part of this collective action: 

  • Stay home when you are sick. If you are sick or have symptoms of illness and need to be around others at home or in your community, wearing a mask will help prevent transmission of virus. 
  • Always practice good hand-hygiene. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap or use hand sanitizer.  
  • Stay up-to-date with the vaccines that are available to you, including COVID-19 boosters and flu-shots.  
  • Consider wearing a mask indoors if you are in close contact with others.  

Are masks available if I want to wear one?

Yes. Masks – including N95s – are available to all employees, volunteers and donors, and you are encouraged to follow public health advice regarding mask wearing.

Can I wear my own mask?

Masks – including N95s – are available, however if you choose to wear a mask you are free to wear your own.

Will you consider bringing back pandemic sick leave? 

We are asking all employees to take a common-sense approach when choosing to come into a Canadian Blood Services site. Above all else, we ask that you stay home when you are sick. This helps to safeguard the health of the patients we serve, our donors and other employees. 

Although currently, we are not considering bringing back pandemic sick leave, we do have measures in place to support you when you are sick. A number of paid leaves still exist to support employees, including sick leave, appointment leave, family leave and more.  

To better understand what paid leave options are available to you, please refer to your applicable collective agreement or non-union terms and conditions of employment for a description of paid leaves. 

We recognize that some part time or contract employees may not be entitled to the same benefits as full-time employees. If this applies to you, we encourage you to reach out to your PCP business partner to discuss your situation and the options available to you, such as extra pay in lieu of sick leave. 

Employees who have concerns related to workplace safety matters should discuss those concerns with their supervisors. The OHS & EHS teams (ask.ohs@blood.ca) are also available to respond to any safety concerns.