Montreal

Quebec union says N95 masks should be mandatory for all health-care workers

A labour federation representing more than 130,000 health-care workers in Quebec is demanding that all of its employees be provided with N95 masks, saying if a second wave of COVID-19 comes this fall, it wants to be prepared. 

Prevention measures need to be ramped up ahead of possible second wave, says CSN

A labour federation representing 130,000 health-care workers in Quebec is asking that all of its members be equipped with N95 masks before another wave of COVID-19 infections. Since the start of the pandemic, 10 per cent of the federation's members have been infected. (Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters)

A labour federation representing more than 130,000 health-care workers in Quebec is demanding that all of its employees be provided with N95 masks, saying if a second wave of COVID-19 comes this fall, it wants to be prepared. 

The head of the federation of health and social services (FSSS-CSN), Jeff Begley, said the government and employers should make wearing N95 masks mandatory for all staff. 

"It's a question of prevention," Begley said. "Better to be overprotected than underprotected. It's as simple as that."

The federation has made a complaint to Quebec's workplace health and safety board (CNESST), asking for help in equipping everyone working in the health-care sector.

"We're asking the health and safety board to put in place prevention measure that will work," Begley said.

Right now, only employees working in COVID-19 hot zones are issued N95 masks, so named because they are supposed to screen out 95 per cent of small particles.

Since the pandemic began, there have been shortages in many parts of the country. Some shipments from overseas were delayed or diverted, and some masks that did make their way to Canada failed to meet specifications.

A medical-mask manufacturing plant is due to start operating in Montreal shortly.

Begley says more than 13,000 members of his federation have already caught the virus.

With files from CBC's Lauren McCallum, Holly Cabrera and Radio-Canada's Daniel Boily

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