SFL STATEMENT Update from the Saskatchewan Federation of labour on COVID-19
March 19, 2020
Update from the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour on COVID-19
The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) has been monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic,
and government response, and would like to share an update. Our working members are on the
frontlines of this pandemic. From hospitals to grocery stores, every worker has been impacted
by COVID-19. We would like to thank our affiliated unions, members, and all workers for their
service in this time of anxiety and uncertainty.
- SFL Operations
Your federation of labour continues to work on your behalf during this important time. We
have postponed all in-person meetings, and are meeting via conference call or video
conferencing to talk about urgent matters only. Our members and affiliated unions are focused
on serving the people of Saskatchewan, and we are doing our best to make sure that’s where
the focus Is.
Staff at the federation of labour continue to work and provide valuable services, but they are
doing so remotely -- with minimal presence in the office for such things as checking the mail,
and locating important files.
Our president, Lori Johb, and SFL staff are in constant contact with union leaders, frontline
workers, decision-makers, and members of the media. Communication is key; please do not
hesitate in emailing or phoning us.
- What Workers and Their Families Need
On March 12th, when Saskatchewan confirmed its first presumptive case of COVID-19 and
people were encouraged to self-isolate if they had recently travelled, the federation of labour
issued a news release calling on the provincial government to immediately pass a law
guaranteeing at least 14 paid sick days for Saskatchewan workers. Our president, Lori Johb, said
at the time: “Saskatchewan now has its first presumptive case of COVID-19. For containment
measures to be effective, workers need access to paid sick days. The provincial government
must move swiftly to pass a law guaranteeing at least 14 paid sick days so people can take time
off work during quarantine procedures to slow the spread of COVID- 19.”
While our members and the public supported our calls for paid sick days, the
provincial government did not respond.
On March 16th, leading up to the provincial budget, the federation of labour called on the
Government of Saskatchewan to use its budget as an opportunity to put forward an economic
plan for workers and the public.
Your federation of labour called for these items to be included in such a plan:
• Guarantee paid leave for workers who must self-isolate;
• Legislate at least 14 days of paid sick days for all workers;
• Ensure all workers are compensated for lost wages if their workplaces have closed due
• Inject funding into all public services and facilities to ensure workers are well-equipped
to tackle increased demands from COVID-19;
• Cease all late payment and interest charges on utility bills for people self-isolating;
• Immediately cease all internet and phone cut-offs for people self-isolating;
• Develop, and provide funding for, a plan to ensure workers are compensated for lost
wages that could come from caring for children in the event of childcare and school
While the provincial government eventually made the overdue decision to legislate unpaid sick
leave, and waive the requirement for workers to provide a doctor’s note, it simply was not
enough to effectively deal with this crisis.
The federal government has put in place a number of measures that will help workers and
families impacted by COVID-19, but we need to see more leadership from our provincial
You can help by emailing the premier and telling him that for self-isolation measures to be
effective, workers need access to paid quarantine leave and at least 14 paid sick days:
3. Resources and Links
• Update on the current situation and Federal Government response: Coronavirus disease
(COVID-19): Outbreak update
• Information on Federal short and long term financial assistance for Canadians:
• Applying for EI: Anyone looking to apply for the new EI benefits, can visit the
Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) website and follow the five steps.
Link: Application for Employment Insurance benefits online - Canada.ca
Workers can also now have the one-week waiting period waived by calling
• Federal Government social distancing procedure: Social Distancing (infographic)
• Self-assessment tool: COVID-19 Self Assessment Tool | COVID-19
• If you believe you may have COVID 19 you will be required to get a referral to a testing
- Healthline 811 (Call 811)
- Your local public health office: Public Health Offices | Public Health
- Your family doctor
• Latest provincial updates: Latest Updates | COVID-19
• Report unnecessarily unsafe work during COVID 19: 1-800-567-7233
4. Tips for Locals and Local Executives
Many locals may have already received guidance and advice for how to operate during the
COVID-19 pandemic. If you have, follow that advice. However, several locals and unions have
reached out to the federation of labour for tips. Below are some general tips for how you might
be able to operate during this time:
• Teleconferencing and Video Conferencing
Where feasible, meetings may be conducted electronically via conference calls, telephone town
halls, or video conferencing. We advise locals to explore available electronic meeting platforms.
Zoom video conferencing: https://zoom.us/ (email email@example.com for our Zoom manual)
• Electronic Voting
When adopting motions to conduct the regular business of the union, such as for decisions of
the executive board or executive committee, voting can be done via email.
Where voting must be secret, such as ratifications or job action mandates, and where votes
cannot be delayed, locals can explore the possibility of using a secure and reliable electronic
voting platform. Remember that some votes are also governed by labour legislation.
• Nominations and Elections
If possible, local elections should occur within your regular timeframe. Perhaps nominations
that might normally occur at a membership meeting can be done by email, and elections can be
conducted electronically using a secure platform.
If maintaining the existing timeframe is not feasible, it’s possible the elections process may be
delayed. Consult your bylaws or provincial/national union office for additional guidance.
• Postponing Meetings
Where it is not possible to hold a meeting and remote solutions are not feasible, local meetings
may have to be postponed. Consult your bylaws or provincial/national union office for
While there are many other issues facing our unions and members right now, we encourage
you to consider the challenges you might be having communicating with your members outside
of the workplace. Consider using this opportunity to collect and compile contact information for
your members. This may also be a good time to review your local’s decision making and
election processes and note possible future bylaw changes.
• Other Issues and Exemptions
Bylaws and constitutions vary widely from one union to the next, and these guidelines will not
address every variable. For issues not contemplated here, consult your provincial/national
union office for additional guidance.