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. As Canadian Blood Services is funded primarily by provincial and territorial governments, and most are focused on improved healthcare as a big budget item, is our funding in jeopardy for the upcoming fiscal year?
  2. Can you please provide details about how to report a DEI incident and how to identify one? Recently, an incident happened on my team where a senior leader poked fun at something that was culturally meaningful to a colleague. In this situation, others were present and laughed at this leaders’ “joking”. Is this considered a DEI incident and if so, what are we expected to do to report it?
  3. FAQ: In collections, we are still currently wiping down the information pamphlets after donors have read them. Most other COVID precautions have been lifted. Why are we still wiping the pamphlets? Perhaps this is an oversight?
  4. As we look to a new year with increasing inflation, and rising interest rates, will employees see a bump in their salaries for 2023 to match what we need to spend our money on?
  5. I'm happy to see the incredible work the DEI team has completed to date. What are our plans to apply the DEI lens and develop a strategy addressing perceived systemic racism embedded in our public/donor facing operational processes and systems at CBS?
  6. With the recent news that Canada is providing the most organ transplants from MAiD (medical assistance in dying) patients in the world and the upcoming shift to include mental health as an acceptable criteria for accessing MAiD, are we going to be reviewing our guidelines around this practice?
  7. There seems to be a lot happening lately (e.g. the Grifols agreement to secure Canada's IG supply, changing criteria for donating, etc.). As we move into Q4, what is the main focus for the organization? Are we still following the priorities set out in our strategic plan?
  8. The term "sick leave" carries with it a negative connotation, and I understand it's a term that has been used for decades. Recently, some companies have been rebranding the term "sick leave" and are now calling it "health leave". Not everyone that takes a "sick day" is what one might call sick. Some people might need to take a "sick day" because they suffer from depression, anxiety, or some other condition. So, my question would be, would CBS consider re-branding "sick leave" with a more appropriate and less stigmatizing term?
  9. I saw recently that there was a cyber security breach at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. It seems more and more health organizations are being targeted by hackers. Is this something we need to be worried about?
  10. Would it be possible to provide a quarterly schedule of DEI events/discussions in advance of the quarter. My team and I are interested in participating in these sessions but find that on short-notice it is often difficult for us to adjust our schedules to be able to join the DEI activities.
  11. More and more, my team is being asked to do the same amount of work, or have an increased workload, with less and less staff. Are there plans to increase our workforce in 2023 to match our job commitments without putting too much stress on current employees?
  12. While we work on addressing discriminatory policies, systemic racism and becoming more inclusive, what are we doing to bring in diversity into the EMT and board team as that's a big reflection of the inclusivity internally and externally?

What employees need to know: Your Digest

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Your digest archives

February 7, 2023

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

Q2 performance report to staff now available

Each quarter, Canadian Blood Services reports on progress toward achieving goals set out in our five key focus areas. In this report you’ll read about some of the major organizational milestones achieved such as improved donor screening processes, growth in plasma and work toward strengthening the employee experience. You’ll also read about progress in ongoing areas of concern like our work in continuous improvement, attention to quality in all that we do and how we’re meeting quality standards, how we’re increasing blood system safety and more. You can read the full report on Connect

From blood donor, to recipient, to team Canada 

Just a few years after a terrifying freeway crash left Alicia Souveny with life-altering injuries, she’s excelling in sport with a national team — and grateful to the blood donors who helped make it possible. Today, Alicia is a member of Canada’s women’s para-hockey team and a Player Ambassador for Hockey Gives Blood. Alicia has found other ways to support Canada’s Lifeline, too, including with a campaign called Step Up With Alicia. Read more about her remarkable story on blood.ca

REMINDER: DEI engagement sessions to kick off this week

On Feb.8, the DEI team will kick off its Driving Meaningful Change, Together sessions. This series of engagement sessions is meant to bring leaders and employees up to speed on our organization’s collective DEI journey and provide a space for questions and feedback. During the sessions, the DEI team will present the foundational elements of Canadian Blood Services’ first DEI strategy and action plan. There are 12 opportunities to participate this month.  Visit Connect to learn more and to register for one of the upcoming sessions. 

Question of the day

How do I access information about charitable donations I made through payroll deduction for tax purposes?

Every year, employees have the option to make one-time or recurring charitable donations to Canadian Blood Services via payroll deductions. Any financial gifts made by employees to Canadian Blood Services through payroll deductions in 2022 are reflected on T4 statements under line 46 ‘Charitable donations.’ If you made a financial donation online, you will have received a tax receipt sent directly to your email. If you have any questions, please reach out to philanthropy@blood.ca.   
 
We recently shared a step-by-step guide from payroll services on how to access your 2022 T4 statements, which are now available through EDA (the Employee Direct Access portal) and MEDA (the mobile version of EDA). If you have questions about your T4 statements, please contact payroll.analysts@blood.ca.  

How do you feel about pineapple on pizza?

Keyword search

Please enter a single search term in the box and click “Filter” to return results. 

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.