Asymptomatic COVID Testing

Good day Union Family,

The 2021 spring shutdown season is just starting to kick off. As we all know last year thousands of manhours of work was put off or cancelled due to the COVID pandemic. Although the COVID pandemic is still going strong with new variants being found and a sporadic vaccination roll out, the Clients look to be moving ahead with the shutdowns as planned.

With the expectation of a large increase of manpower at most sites, Clients have been developing additional COVID protocols, to help ensure everyone’s health. One of the additional protocols that is being added at most sites is Asymptomatic/Rapid COVID testing. Individuals will be tested asymptomatically when they are identified as being in high-risk work groups. These workers would be individuals that are required to be in close proximity with a number of different people to preform their duties. There will be testing prior to Client provide transportation, this is especially for individuals that will be provided flights. Also, asymptomatic testing will be performed on individuals found to be in close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID.

For most cases being asymptomatic the worker will be able to continue working until the test results come back. This should be a maximum of two hours for most sites, but please ask at the time of testing how long it will be to get the results. If the results are negative the worker will continue as normal. However, if the results are positive the worker will be required to self-isolate as per Alberta Health Services and complete an Alberta Health Services COVID test.

Isolation protocols are different depending on the Client. Some are providing in camp isolation accommodations; some require that isolation happens at an off-site location. Whatever, the requirements it is important that our Members follow the requirements and insure they do not contaminate anyone else. During the time of isolation, the Member will not be compensated for their time, but there are programs through Employment Insurance that will provide some financial assistance.

The Business Agents and I have been contacted by a number of Members that are concerned about if the Client has the legal right to require asymptomatic testing as a site access requirement. I have contacted legal council and have been assured that as long as the Clients are following privacy law there is no way to restrict the use of COVID testing for site access.

If you have questions about the testing requirements please contact me at the Edmonton Union hall. If you have questions about your Contractors or sites protocols, your Job Steward or area Business Agent should be able to provide that information.

In Solidarity
Kevin Lecht
Business Manager