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June 22, 2020

Nurses launch investigation into Canada’s failure to protect health care workers  from COVID-19

Media Release

June 22, 2020 (OTTAWA, ON) – The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions is launching an independent investigation into why Canada has failed to protect more than 16,000 health care workers from being infected by COVID-19, ignoring the lessons learned from the tragic SARS outbreak in 2003.

Canada’s rate of infection of health care workers is 19 per cent – more than triple the global average (as reported by the International Council of Nurses) and more than four times the infection rate in China, where most health workers were infected early before China took rigorous protection measures.

“The CFNU is launching this investigation to expose how Canada has shamefully failed to keep health care workers safe from COVID-19,” said Linda Silas, President of the CFNU. “Nurses unions, health care unions and experts have been sounding the alarm on the safety disaster facing health care workers during this pandemic, but we have been largely ignored. It’s time for accountability, transparency and action.”

Mario Possamai, former Senior Advisor to the SARS Commission, has been called upon to lead this investigation into how and why health workers have not been protected; what the impacts have been; what information, recommendations or best practices may have been available but ignored; and where accountability for this failure lies.

“The SARS Commission provided clear recommendations on worker safety and infection containment, lessons that have been overlooked in this pandemic,” said Mr. Possamai. “It is our hope that this investigation, prompted by the CFNU, will yield unequivocal, evidence-based recommendations that are urgently needed to prepare Canada and frontline workers for the next wave of COVID-19.”

The investigation will compare how different levels of government responded to the pandemic and how international jurisdictions exercised the precautionary approach to successfully protect their health workers and contain COVID-19. The findings and recommendations are planned to be released in early September.

“As a society we must respect the safety of all workers, just as we respect the safety of patients and the public. This pandemic is having life-and-death impacts on frontline workers, and we must learn from our mistakes and do better,” concluded Silas.

A public launch of the investigation will take place on Monday June 22 at 6:30pm EDT, broadcast live to the CFNU’s facebook page.


 For more information, please contact:
Lauren Snowball,, 613-868-5702
Ben René,, 613-406-5962 (French)

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