SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION CANADA

SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION CANADA

February 07, 2005 13:00 ET

UNION CALLS ON B.C. TO FINANCE IMPLEMENTATION OF SAFETY NEEDLES

Upcoming budget surplus must be used to protect workers, communities from used needles Attention: Health/Medical Editor, News Editor, Science Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor VANCOUVER--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 7, 2005) - The union that pushed the Saskatchewan and Manitoba governments to switch to safety-engineered needles is calling on Premier Gordon Campbell to give workers and residents in B.C. the same protection. The move would require a small fraction of the surplus expected in the 2005 budget.

"By eliminating the use of less safe conventional needles in workplaces, the government could cut 90 per cent of the 6,800 injuries inflicted on B.C. workers every year in acute care alone," says Mike McDonald, president of the Service Employees International Union Local 244 in Burnaby. "Reducing the need for testing and treatment, the province could save over $8 million per year."

And with a price tag of only $3.6 million, switching to the safety needles is a sound investment for the province and will free up vital resources for other priorities, like reducing wait-times or preventing abuse of workers, he says.

While conventional needles are a daily threat to workers, McDonald says this issue reaches well beyond the acute care realm and into the heart of our communities.

"These needles are a threat to everyone. How many times have you seen needles lying around when walking in parks or playgrounds? Some of our members work in waste management and they see used needles every day," he says. "We will continue to pressure the government until a commitment has been made to pass a regulation requiring the mandatory use of safety-engineered needles to protect all workers and citizens in this province."

Over 70,000 Canadian workers are injured every year by needle-sticks. Workers injured by used needles suffer months of emotional and physical anguish as they undergo testing and preliminary treatment to find out if they have a life-threatening disease, like hepatitis or HIV/AIDS.

Safety-engineered needles are manufactured with built-in safety mechanisms. One example is a spring-loaded needle that retracts into the barrel after use, much like a ball-point pen.

SEIU Canada represents over 90,000 workers.
/For further information: Mike McDonald, President, SEIU Local 244, 604-802-4267 visit www.SaferNeedlesNow.ca/ IN: HEALTH, JUSTICE, LABOUR, POLITICS

Contact Information

  • Carl Mavromichalis, National Communications Coordinator, SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION CANADA
    Primary Phone: 416-951-4905
    E-mail: mavromichalisc@seiu.ca