For those who cannot work from home, the dangers of COVID-19 are still present

For those who cannot work from home, the dangers of COVID-19 are still present

At this point in the pandemic, WestJet flight attendant Crystal Hill, based in British Columbia, says she no longer spends much time worrying about COVID-19 in the course of her job which requires regular face-to-face interaction with the audience

“You go to work and you understand that exposure is very likely,” she said. “Or it could be very likely.

“But he’s been there for two years,” Hill said. “At one point, it’s almost like you need to numb yourself a bit.”

Almost two years after the start of the pandemic, thousands of Canadian frontline workers who cannot work from home continue to be at increased risk of contracting COVID-19. And with the spread of the highly transmissible variant Omicron, those pressures, for many, have just intensified.

For flight attendants – in addition to fear of contracting COVID-19 from a passenger – there are challenges with federal mask warrants and passenger compliance.

“It’s really the last month, I would say, that things have evolved into this feeling of burnout in everyone,” said Hill, who is also vice-president of CUPE 4070, the union that represents the officers of WestJet board.

Unrecognized risk, according to the pharmacist

Toronto pharmacist Kyro Maseh, owner of Lawlor Pharmacy, says the stress of his job over the past two years has caused him to wake up several times a night because “there are a million thoughts going through my mind. head “.

Pharmacist Kyro Maseh is preparing a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at his Toronto pharmacy on April 20, 2021. He is frustrated that pharmacists have not been prioritized for vaccination or recognized for frontline risks. (Evan Mitsui / CBC)

He also lost weight, not by dieting, but by skipping lunch. He said he just didn’t have time to eat.

But most of the time, he said he was “livid” because he didn’t think the government had recognized that pharmacists face the same risks as other frontline healthcare workers.

“We’re the ones who sort, recommend, answer questions, and obviously fill prescriptions,” Maseh said. “We are therefore the most front-line healthcare professional in the Canadian healthcare system. And by far the most accessible. “

What about those with symptoms related to COVID-19?

“The first point of contact you had, guess where it was? It was me,” he said. “And I did not receive [personal protective equipment], I wasn’t even considered a vaccine-worthy front-line healthcare professional when it came out. So you see the frustration. “

In front of thousands of people

In Waterloo, Ont., Part-time grocer Brent Lambert said he too feels those who provide day-to-day grocery store services are somewhat underrated compared to the healthcare workers who receive the majority of compassion.

We’re next in line. There are no other industries that have met thousands of people, “he said.” We are. And… putting us at risk from a deadly virus. “

But it’s not just the threat of contracting COVID-19, he said, but the virus-related absences that have added to the pressures at work.

“We are simply understaffed,” he said. “If you do the work of three people, that’s burnout and that’s the most important thing.”

“I feel like I’m doing something”

In Mississauga, Ont., Canadian Tire store employee Julian Mason said for him there is still concern about contracting the virus and bringing it home to his family.

He started a year ago and was happy to have a job unlike many others who were losing their jobs. But he also has type 1 diabetes, which means he has a weakened immune system.

“So it’s a little scary for me to work while this is all going on,” he said.

Canadian Tire mechanic Nadim Farid, pictured on January 6, says it feels good to provide an important service, especially to healthcare workers who need to travel. (Evan Mitsui / CBC)

Nadim Farid, who has been an automotive technician with Canadian Tire for seven years, said that “you never know if a customer has COVID when they come to the shop, it’s like that. You take the risk ”.

He nevertheless believes that it provides a valuable service, in particular, to healthcare workers who need their vehicles in good working order to be able to carry out their important tasks.

“If someone needs to go to work, they come to our house and have their car repaired,” he said. “They still have to go to the hospital. If it’s snowing, they have to put on their tires, check their rigs, just like that. I feel like I’m doing something.”

A number of essential workers are still at work, such as those shift workers at the Ford plant in Oakville, Ont., Pictured on January 6. (Evan Mitsui / CBC)

Meanwhile, at the Ford plant in Oakville, Ont., Which was sometimes idle during the pandemic, many workers entering their afternoon shift had little fear of contracting the coronavirus in their workspace.

“It’s actually a breath of fresh air,” said Mike Legere, who has worked at the plant for 40 years. “I go to work every day. I’m not stuck in my house.

“Everyone is safe. We all wear masks.”

Line assembler Ledda Macera said she also had little fear of being infected at the plant.

“That doesn’t mean you have to get it in the workplace,” she said. “You can get it anywhere.”

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