COVID-19 Frontline Workers Snubbed by Ontario

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COVID-19 Frontline Workers Snubbed by Ontario

Furman believes that everyone working in a hospital at this time deserves pandemic pay

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Healthcare workers protesting the ineligibility status of many of their colleagues for "pandemic pay"

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Dorit Furman is a phlebotomist working at St. Michael’s hospital five days a week, 8-hours a day, drawing patients’ blood as a lab technician. On any given day, she comes face to face with no less than 20 patients suspected of COVID-19. Every day she puts herself at risk as a hospital worker, with as much exposure to the deadly virus as do doctors and nurses. So imagine what it was like for Furman to learn that hospital cooks and maintenance staff are eligible to receive the government’s “pandemic pay,” which temporarily supports front line workers battling COVID-19, but that she was not.

“Every day I am taking blood from COVID-19 patients. And our government has decided that we are not front line workers? It’s not the money. It’s the lack of respect and recognition.”

Furman emphasizes that she believes that everyone working in a hospital at this time deserves the pandemic pay – including cooks and maintenance staff. She simply cannot understand why she and her colleagues who work as lab technicians are excluded.

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Furman begins her day at 6:30 am to take blood, from every hospital unit. It doesn’t matter who the patient is; she takes blood when patients enter the hospital, and before they leave, to make sure they are virus free. Furman takes blood from as many as 60 patients a day, helping ICU nurses in the most critical cases, who need help drawing blood. She has more than 30 years of experience, having worked as a nurse in Israel prior to becoming a lab technician in Canada.

Healthcare worker must wear full personal protection equipment their entire shift to protect against being infected with Covid-19

If not for Furman and lab technicians like her, doctors wouldn’t know if the patient has COVID-19, whether or not they have antibodies, how to treat them, and whether they are ready to be released. They are critical to the effective treatment of patients. And yet, the Ontario government has not deemed phlebotomists to be front line workers.

That feeling of being ‘unrecognized’ is made worse by the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). “They don’t provide us with N-95 masks anymore. At the beginning of this crisis, we were told that we don’t need it. Then we got them for a two week period, until we were told recently that we can’t get them. We were told to wear a surgical mask instead.”

Group of lab technicians who are denied pandemic pay

Furman contacted her union to ask what her rights were. She was told that she could refuse to take blood from COVID-19 patients, but hospital management said otherwise. “I did take blood with a surgical mask one time, but I’m scared. I have a son who is asthmatic and a husband, who was laid off work, at home. I am more worried exposing them, than about exposing myself. Now that I am the only breadwinner, I really don’t know what to do.”

Furman worked during the SARS crisis and emphasizes that this time things are different. During SARS, she had all the PPE that she needed, including N-95 masks, and was able to change equipment between patients. Now, Furman has to wear the same inadequate mask all day. Then, she was recognized as a front line worker and received a special dispensation. “The level of fear and uncertainty around contracting the virus was not there during SARS. We didn’t live with the same level of stress,” says Furman.

In spite of her feelings of frustration, Furman loves her job. “I feel very fulfilled when I see a COVID-19 patient going home. I was a part of that process that led to that positive outcome.” 

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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