Medical lab staff also deserve essential worker premium pay
With the announcement by Premier Doug Ford about a Pandemic Pay Premium on April 24 came a can of worms about who will be receiving the $4-perhour premium as an acute hospital worker.
The initial announcement listed all the possible nursing jobs (RN, RNA, RPN, etc.), PSWs/attendant care workers and auxiliary staff including porters, cooks, custodian, housekeeping, laundry and other key workers as those getting this premium. I assumed that the medical lab technologist, which I am, and technicians were lumped into the “other key workers” category.
Then on April 29 the list of eligible workers was “expanded” to include EMTs and respiratory technologists. This was done because their regulatory bodies and workers complained to the premier’s office about not being listed specifically. Does this mean if my job title is not specifically listed I will not get the premium?
This upset me because as an MLT we do the testing that diagnoses COVID-19, along with many other diseases. It is said that 70 per cent of all medical decisions a doctor makes are based on test results that a laboratory gives them. This includes everything from the diagnostic tests required to diagnose illnesses to monitoring the effectiveness of treatment plans. And yet my job is not considered “essential?”
At my hospital we have purchased a new analyzer and validated it, along with another pre-existing analyzer, to be able to perform in-house COVID-19 testing. This has enabled us to perform over 13,100 tests in house and assist in diagnosing over 1,000 patients with COVID-19. And yet my job is not considered “essential?”
It is also equally upsetting because last week of April 26 to May 2 happens to be National Medical Laboratory Week. We have received proclamations from
Mayor John Tory (Toronto) and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as seen below:
“Today, I join Canadians to mark the beginning of National Medical Laboratory Week, and celebrate the invaluable and life-saving contributions of our country’s dedicated medical laboratory professionals.
“As they work hard to provide timely, reliable test results for COVID-19, Canada’s laboratory professionals have demonstrated their importance as core members of our health care team.
“During this difficult time, their work is more important than ever. Laboratory professionals across Canada have been working day and night to process COVID-19 tests, while finding innovative ways to speed up the process. Working together with health care professionals, they play a key role in helping to identify cases of COVID-19 so we can stop its spread.
“While we rely on the hard work of our laboratory and health care professionals, we all must do our part by following the recommendations of public health experts and staying at home. We will get through this together.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I encourage all Canadians to join me to thank the many laboratory professionals on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. Their professionalism, expertise, and dedication is helping to keep our loved ones, our health care professionals, and our communities safe.”
Are we, as medical lab technologists, medical lab technicians, and patient care technicians now reduced to begging in the news and social media to be recognized as “essential?” I guess so!
So here it is: Premier Doug Ford, you need to add all lab personnel to the Pandemic Premium Pay Essential workers list. Without us, the doctors are only guessing.