Post-secondary institutions around the world have begun taking steps to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 among their students, faculty and staff. Here in Canada, we are starting to see schools cancelling classes and events, moving to online or remote methods of instruction. Some institutions have put restrictions on approved travel.
We appreciate the efforts that are being made.
It is critical, however, for universities to take into account that post-secondary workers are already in precarious jobs with low wages, limited job protection, and limited benefits. Some workers are here from other countries, attending school and working on visas.
We strongly recommend that all universities provide safeguards for these workers. These measures should include:
- continuing pay while the worker is not working due to closures, isolation or illness;
- ensuring that workers who are also students have the ability to complete course work or not be penalized;
- providing support for workers on visas who may face immigration concerns if not working/studying;
- ensuring that workers and students continue to have housing if they live in campus or university owned or managed housing.
Members whose work or studies take them off campus to hospitals, laboratories, or workplaces for internships, residencies, cooperative placements and so on, also must be made safe in those locations.
Importantly, universities also have a continuing obligation to ensure that these workers do not face discrimination or harassment on any prohibited ground, including, but not limited to race, ethnicity, place of origin, and related to perceptions of their association with the coronavirus.
PSAC will continue to support its 37,000 members who work in the post-secondary sector. Members with concerns or questions should be in touch with their local president or representative in their regional office.