CUPE – What Can I Do If My Employer Is Not Doing Enough To Keep Me Safe From COVID-19?

To all Cupe Locals:

Your employer has a legal obligation to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all their workers.

This obligation is especially important during the public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. To provide safe working conditions, your employer has a general legal duty to:

CUPE SK_COVID-19_Health and Safety CIRCULAR_No 1_APRIL 7 2020_FINAL (002) (2)

Canada Emergency Response Benefit: Q&A

The federal government has announced a new benefit to help workers impacted by COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The CERB has been integrated with Employment Insurance to allow workers to apply for benefits through a single window.

Who is covered by the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

The CERB will cover people who have lost their job, people who are sick or quarantined, and parents who must stay home without pay to care for children because of COVID-19. The CERB also covers workers who have no income due to the COVID-19 slowdown, but who haven’t yet been officially laid off.

It will cover employees, contract workers, and self-employed workers. To qualify, applicants must have had $5,000 in employment income, self-employment income, or maternity or parental leave benefits for 2019 or in the 12-month period preceding the day they make the application.

Who is not covered by the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

Job loss must be related to COVID-19 and must have happened on or after March 15. This means students who are unable to find a summer job, seasonal workers, and workers who were already unemployed are not eligible for the CERB. In addition, applicants must not be receiving any income from employment, so workers whose hours have been reduced but are still working are not eligible.

How much will I get?

The CERB will pay out $2,000 per month for up to four months, backdated to March 15. The benefit is available March 15 to October 3, 2020. The benefit will not be taxed at source but will have to be reported on your 2020 taxes.

Do I need my ROE (Record of Employment)?

You do not need your record of employment (ROE) from your employer in order to apply for the CERB. You should still ask for it, because you will need it later if you need to apply for EI regular or sickness benefits after the CERB ends.

Where can I apply for the CERB?

You can apply now through Service Canada by applying for EI regular benefits or sickness benefits. Or you can apply for the CERB on or after April 6, through a new Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) portal.

If you have already applied for EI, you don’t need to also apply for the CERB, your claim will automatically be assessed for the 16-week benefit. If you receive the CERB, you can use your hours to apply for EI benefits after you have exhausted CERB benefits. You can apply in one of three ways:

1 – through your CRA MyAccount secure portal;

2– through your secure My Service Canada Account; or

3 – by calling a toll-free number equipped with an automated application process.

At this point, CUPE is advising our members to apply through Service Canada to ensure an easier transition if you need to apply for EI regular or sickness benefits later.

What if I’ve already been laid off and applied for EI?

If you submit an application for EI now or have already applied since March 15, you do not need to reapply for the CERB. If you qualify, your claim will be automatically moved over to the CERB, and benefits will be paid from this program first. If needed, you can use your hours to apply for EI benefits after you have exhausted CERB benefits.

What if I don’t qualify for EI?

Even if you don’t qualify for EI, you can qualify for the CERB if you had $5,000 in employment income, self-employment income, or maternity or parental leave benefits for 2019 or in the 12-month period preceding the day you make the application and if your job loss, income loss, sick leave or caregiving leave is because of COVID-19.

When will I get benefits?

Applications for EI are being processed now. The application portal through the Canada Revenue Agency opens on Monday April 6. Benefits should be delivered 10 days after you submit your application. There is no waiting period for the CERB.

What if I’m already receiving EI benefits?

If you started getting EI before March 15 you will continue to receive your EI benefits. If you remain unemployed or on sick leave once you exhaust EI benefits, you may qualify for the CERB, if your job loss or sick leave was because of COVID-19.

What if I continue to be sick or unemployed after my CERB runs out?

If you have enough EI insurable hours, you will still be able to access your normal EI benefits after the 16-week period covered by the CERB. Your eligibility and benefit level will be based on the hours you worked and your salary before you started getting the CERB.

You will need to have a ROE from your employer to access normal EI benefits after October 3, 2020.

What if my province offers emergency income support? Am I still eligible for the CERB?

You will not be disqualified for the CERB simply for having non-employment income. You can receive income from non-employment sources while on the CERB, including temporary provincial income support, social assistance, workers’ compensation, or pension income. However, you can’t receive any income from employment.

* CERB pdf poster for printing and circulation:

Public Health Order – Right to Refuse – March 31, 2020

1. COVID-19 and Right to Refuse:


2. Government of Saskatchewan – Public Health Order:

Public health Order March 26 2020

Provincial & Federal Alert Links:

1. Emergency Alerts: SaskAlert is Saskatchewan’s Emergency Public Alerting program used to alert the public in real-time of an emergency situation.

2. .Government of Canada:


Local 21 – Update

This evening I was in a conference call with various Locals across the province in conjunction with our national body. Over the course of this two and a half hour discussion all Local Presidents gave reports about the status of their Locals and we all learned that this situation remains fluid and that nearly all municipalities are experiencing similar impacts.

We have tentatively agreed to continue such calls in order to address any new concerns and work on solutions that may arise.

The Union and the employer are working collaboratively during this pandemic to limit any health and safety concerns as well as the financial impact for our members.

However, do not confuse cooperation with capitulation. We will hold the employer accountable if they choose not to adhere to our negotiated agreements.

These are uncertain times and we ask that the membership continue to access the website often, as information during this pandemic will change frequently.

There is no playbook for the days that have passed or the days to come but we will continue to engage the employer with the principles of safety and opportunity in mind.

Stay safe,

Laird Williamson

Communication Update – COVID-19


1. Are the Casual staff employees being laid off?
Yes. Some of the casual staff will be receiving layoff notices for the 31 March 2020.

2. Are any Casual staff employees remaining at work?
Yes. A very limited number of casual staff will remain on who work in critical areas and possess the skills necessary to maintain service levels.

3. What are the critical areas?
As of today (26 March 2020) those identified critical services include but may not be limited to are as follows:

– Cemeteries
– Facilities
– Fleet
– Forestry
– Landfill
– Recreation Staff overseeing the REACH program
– Sewer & Drainage
– Solid Waste Collection (SWC)
– Traffic
– Water

4. Is it business as usual?
No. These identified work units are certain areas in the City that need to be kept open in order to maintain a minimum level of service to the public while balancing the safety and interests of the public and their employees.

These areas will be scaling back their operations to “must do” work instead of the day to day operations.

5. Will permanent staff be laid off?
Not at this time. However, that does not change the possibility that in a worst case scenario we may see this occurring.

6. Will anyone who is laid off have the opportunity to exhaust entitlement banks before burdening our Federal programs?
Staff may access all of their Time in Lieu, or any casual banked vacation time. This will not include sick time entitlements.

If you choose to exhaust your entitlement banks the employer will keep you “on work” until those are exhausted and then issue layoff.

Meaning if you have one (1) week of vacation your layoff will be issued on 7 April 2020, you will still be at home come the 31 March 2020 but your layoff will be pushed back to the extent you have credits.

You must elect to use all of the credits in your time-in-lieu and vacation bank in order to select this option.

7. What is our message to the public as to why we are still working?
The City will be issuing a communication to the public regarding this matter. Additionally, operating areas will be provided a direct answer in the coming days as it relates to providing critical services in our community in a safe and socially minded way.

8. What is our PPE situation at right now?
Good. Right now the City is currently securing a local source for additional cleaning products. The City has also sourced more masks, which should be arriving shortly. Please contact your supervisor if you require any additional PPE.

9. Is my safety secondary?
No, absolutely not.

This has been communicated to ELT (City Executive Leadership Team) and your safety is not secondary. A communication, along with direction will be given to managers / supervisors in the coming days to reaffirm this.

10. Where can I go to use the bathroom?
The City has activated three (3) facilities in which you are able to call and gain access to use the washrooms. They are currently working on getting access to more facilities. Please ask your supervisor for phone numbers and locations.

If your home is closer to your job site than one of the designated facilities, use your washroom. Although we discourage lingering as this will not help the optics of the situation.

11. Can I drive a separate truck to a site so I may maintain physical distancing?
Yes, if possible.

Currently some work units have access to extra vehicles and this is possible, others do not. The City is working with Fleet on this problem right now. Please ask your supervisor if this is an option.

12. What do I do if I feel unwell?
If you are home and feel unwell, stay home and notify your supervisor and call 811 for direction.

If you start to feel ill while at work, inform your supervisor, go home, and call 811. The Saskatchewan Health Authority will direct you on how to proceed. Please then communicate to your supervisor what they have told you to do.

13. If I feel unsafe can I go home and use my banks till this blows over?
Yes and no.

If you feel unsafe at work due to COVID-19 we ask that you express this concern to your supervisor and work with them on crafting a solution to whatever particular problem there may be.

As an example – the “two separate trucks” came from someone working out a creative solution to a problem. If you are unable to find a solution that limits your risk, through changing process, or PPE, you may access your entitlement banks.

The exception being if you have compromised health or are the care giver of someone with compromised health, please communicate this to your supervisor and make arrangements for entitlement usage.

14. Will the employer supplement my EI?
No. At this time we do not have a Supplemental Unemployment Plan in our collective bargaining agreement.

15. Will the employer contribute to my benefit premiums during this short term layoff?
Yes. The employer will maintain contributions until 31 May 2020 excluding pension.

16. When will I go back to work?
Currently there is not a defined return to work (RTW) date. You are still employed with the City of Regina regardless of how this situation plays out. The City and the Union are currently working on potential redeployment options.

17. Where can I find updates?
Our Local 21 website (, call the office, your supervisor, or City Connect.

18. What Government benefits are available?
There are many changes to government programs and new items being added or amended weekly. You can access these through the Canadian Government website(s).

19. Where is our Union?
Our Executive is still very much functional although we have adopted a “need” basis for meetings similar to the employer. We are committed to providing updates via phone, email, and our website ( and encourage the membership to check in often.

When this situation stabilizes we will be reaching out to very small groups for discussion and engagement if the meeting capacity limits and restrictions loosen.

20. Will our Union help anyone who is laid off?
Currently we are having email / discussions around what help we may be able to offer beyond government programs for those affected by layoff if this situation worsens or is prolonged.

21. Is CUPE National going to help anyone who is laid off?
Presently there is no monetary aid but will provide any guidance in conjunction with Local 21.

In closing:

These are uncertain times and we ask that our membership be patient with the City and the Union while we work together on lessening the impact to our members and citizens. This situation is constantly evolving and what may be the case today may change by tomorrow.

Please reach out to the Union if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions that were not covered in this FAQ or if you need clarification.

Phone: (306) 352-8282

PDF communication update poster for printing / circulation:

L21 – Communication Update (COVID-19) – Mar. 27, 2020

Stay safe / Local 21 Executive

COVID-19: Operational Update

To the members of Local 21: Regarding COVID-19

There is a lot of information floating around from many different sources. We will endeavour to address three (3) pressing items:

1) Facility shut down
2) Meetings
3) Quarantine

Facility shut down: 

The City of Regina will be shutting down all public access to City Facilities effective March 17th.

We have been in discussions with the City and at this point the situation remains fluid. The casual staff in the Recreation world may be kept on for the remainder of this week but beyond that will likely have their shifts canceled.

There is a commitment from the City to honour two (2) weeks of scheduled work but no commitment to maintain wage beyond that at this time. There are also ongoing discussions with our other Union partners about job sharing and the City is asking for our flexibility and creativity to address the work shortage.

Our prime directives are opportunity & safety.

These will be the guiding principles in future discussions with the City.


The City has suspended all non-essential meetings. This includes but is not limited to grievances and arbitrations. There may still be operational meetings held while adapting appropriate social distancing.

If you have a file that is currently being investigated or has been advanced to a grievance, the conclusion of that will be delayed and we ask for your patience on this matter.

There will be no penalty held against any member with regards to items postponed due to this situation.


This is an ever changing situation but as it stands today Canada has labeled all countries as a level three (3). If you were in transit when this occurred and are returning home you will be required to self quarantine for fourteen (14) days and the City will maintain your wage.

If you become symptomatic over the coming weeks you will be required to self quarantine for fourteen (14) days – please note that this will be coded as unpaid sick, paid sick, or vacation – whatever entitlements you have available.

The City will be waiving all requirements for a physicians note during this time.

This situation remains fluid and will likely change frequently and often. Please take this as an informative notice but the information may change at any moment.

Please feel free to reach out to an Executive member if you have any questions or contact our office at: (306)352-8282.

A lot of this information may be found on City Connect or by asking your supervisor.

Local 21