A statement from GVP Stan Pickthall on COVID-19

A statement from GVP Stan Pickthall on COVID-19

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In light of the World Health Organization declaring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic, we are issuing Health Canada’s guidelines for the most effective preventative measures that help protect you, your co-workers and families. Attached to this letter you will also find brochures from Health Canada, which you may share with members. Be aware that at this moment, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has determined the risk of contracting the virus for the general public as low, but it is important to follow the guidelines to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Currently, in Canada there are 103 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the majority of those being located in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta. The risk of contracting the virus is highest for those over the age of 65 with compromised immune systems and underlying health conditions.

Health Canada has issued a lengthy directive on preventative measures, and we are asking all of our staff, district and local lodge officers to follow guidelines outlined below;

  • Washing hands often, or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when hand washing is not available
  • Disposing of any tissues you have used as soon as possible in a lined wastebasket and wash your hands afterwards
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Practicing social distancing, which means maintaining a 2 meter (6 feet) distance when speaking to others, limiting exposure to large gatherings, sneezing or coughing into the arm or bend of the elbow, and limiting hand-shaking. If possible, arrange meetings via teleconference, which can be arranged with the Canadian office.
  • Gatherings of more than 100 people: Should be avoided, including local lodge meetings.
  • If you have been in contact with someone who has been confirmed to have COVID-19 or is quarantined, self-quarantine for two weeks.
  • Cleaning the following high-touch surfaces frequently with regular household cleaners or diluted bleach (1 part bleach to 9 parts water):
  • Toys
  • Toilets
  • Phones
  • Electronics
  • Door handles
  • Bedside tables
  • Television remotes

If you are ill, please stay home and self-monitor and self-quarantine for 14 days. If your symptoms persist and do not improve over a couple of days, call your doctor instead of visiting their office, notify your provincial Public Health Agency and the Canadian office.

Particular measures have been undertaken at Canadian airports to help identify travelers to Canada who may be ill and raising awareness among travelers about steps to take if they get sick. Banners and Public Health Agency information booths have been placed at the Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal airports.

For those working in the health professions, Health Canada is advising the full use of all types of personal protective equipment such as gloves, long-sleeved gowns, facial protection such as surgical/procedural mask and eye protection, face shields, or surgical/procedural masks with a visor attachment, including N95 respirators with eye protection, especially when working with suspected cases of COVID-19. Hand-washing is essential both during and after removal of PPE, and after leaving the patient care environment.

We are also asking all of our servicing staff to contact employers and inquire which measures are being developed to limit exposure and the spread of COVID-19. Where appropriate, inquire if updated PPE is being provided to workers. Ensure that if there are policies, they are communicated with the membership, and in instances where an employer has not issued guidelines, that they are developed.

The W3 has cancelled classes until the end of March, at which point they will re-evaluate the situation and the safety of holding classes. As we have a PAC Symposium planned mid-April, we will notify you of the status of the event at the end of March.

Although we will continue to monitor changes and updates from Health Canada as they become available, we encourage you to stay informed and visit the Health Canada website for more detailed information.

Below you can visit links that provide additional information, including Public Health Agency websites from the three affected provinces.

Health Canada website with daily updates:

Alberta Health Services:

B.C. Centre for Disease Control:

Public Health Ontario:

Stay healthy, safe and practice common sense. Protecting your health also protects the health of others.

In solidarity,

Stan Pickthall,
GVP- Canada