May 13, 2020
TORONTO – Unifor has written to Premier Ford demanding that all Community and Home Care as well as supportive housing facilities be included in provincial directives so that all workers will be provided proper Personal Protective Equipment to avoid further deaths.
“The tragic death of Unifor member and PSW, Leonard Rodriques at Access Independent Living Services, along with COVID-19 outbreaks in several community care settings exposes the reality that there is an urgent need to protect those providing care,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “It was horrifying to learn from Leonard’s family that when he got sick, he was wearing a mask he had purchased at a dollar store. While we continue to demand an investigation into his preventable death, we are also sounding the alarm that that immediate steps must be taken. ”
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Unifor has been demanding better protection for all frontline workers, for the last 9 weeks. Rodriques as a worker in Community Care, he and his co-workers are not protected under current provincial PPE directives.
“Health and safety measures adopted across these various community settings have been piece meal and inadequate,” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director. “Leonard deserved better and so does every worker who devotes themselves to the care of others. There needs to be accountability failing to protect workers and residents.”
Access Independent Living Services is a Not-For-Profit Community Care agency in Toronto that receives more than five million dollars in public funding annually. Information on meetings, by-laws or the Board of Directors for the agency is not available on their website.
“The lack of transparency from Access is appalling and they should be ashamed of themselves,” said Katha Fortier, Assistant to Unifor’s National President. “Leonard worked for them for more than 30 years, and they have yet to issue any public statement to even express their grief or their condolences, let alone accept any responsibility or a commitment to improve access to PPE.”
Information about the union's response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members can be found at unifor.org/COVID19.
To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Skype or FaceTime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Hamid Osman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 647-448-2823 (cell).