February 11, 2021
WINDSOR—Unifor is outraged after the Ministry of Labour confirms that non-medical AIRE masks given to workers at Fairfield Park are not the same ones the employer claimed were verified Level 1 medical masks, after a field visit on February 8, 2021.
“Unifor’s position has always been that masks labeled ‘non-medical’ should not have been distributed to our members in this workplace. What is clear to us, and to the inspector, is that the verification report provided by the employer doesn’t correspond with the masks that were actually used and there is no evidence those were ever approved for medical use,” said Tullio DiPonti, President of Unifor Local 2458.
“We have information that leads us to believe that this mask was distributed for medical use in this home for months, often repackaged out of its original container.”
The labour inspector’s field report says the employer verified with the supplier that the masks were Level 1 medical masks but after reviewing that paperwork, serious discrepancies were discovered. The information does not correspond with the brand and model of masks actually in use at Fairfield. Evidence provided was related to a mask brand called “Alloves,” while the masks in the workplace were labeled “AIRE” with different model numbers. As a result, the inspector wrote orders against Fairfield requiring further investigation and verification that it complies with requirements for medical or surgical masks.
“What is just as frightening is that claims about this mask’s efficiency were supported by the Chatham Kent Public Health and the Chatham Kent Health Alliance,” continued DiPonti. “Surgical, procedural masks are part of the minimum required personal protective equipment outlined in Ontario’s Directive 5 and Directive 3. Even visitors must be provided a surgical/procedural mask for indoor visits.”
“As we watched cases grow at a rapid rate in this home, we have to question whether what appears to be a lack of proper medical masks contributed to that spread,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “This must be investigated and we must do better to ensure our members on the front-line of this pandemic are afforded every protection they deserve. They are our heroes.”
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.
For media inquiries or to arrange a Skype, Zoom or Facetime interview please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at @email or 416-896-3303 (cell).