Health PEI Health Care Workers: COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

The following FAQs have been developed through the COVID-19 Joint Response Team and Health PEI Human Resources to help inform Health PEI staff and physicians as we respond to virus.

These FAQs may change over time. New versions will be sent to staff as requirements change and FAQs posted to Health PEI and Government websites will be updated frequently.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any cases of COVID-19 on PEI?

For updated data including number of positive and negative results, as well as number of tests pending, visit princeedwardisland.ca/covid19

What is being done to protect health care workers on the front lines?

PEI is following the PHAC (Public Health Agency of Canada) national guidance regarding screening, identification, infection control, testing and follow-up.

The health and safety of all health care workers is a priority for the COVID-19 Joint Response Team of the Chief Public Health Office and Health PEI, which is closely monitoring and responding to the issue.

Maintaining the health and well-being of health care workers is important for both those individuals and the ongoing health of Islanders.

Health care workers are being provided all the necessary personal protective equipment required to mitigate risk of being infected with COVID-19, including masks, gowns, gloves, and hand sanitizer. Precautions for COVID-19 are the same as for influenza.

The Joint Response Team’s Supply Division is actively monitoring and adjusting supplies as necessary to ensure personal protective equipment is available where it is needed across the province.

Additionally, through the set-up of external screening clinics in Charlottetown and Summerside, patients who need testing for COVID-19 are being diverted from acute care settings. Patients can access the screening clinics by calling 811.

Services within my department have been deemed non-essential at present. Will I be reassigned to alternate work or an alternate service/site?

If there is no work available in your current service area you may be reassigned to another service area at any time. Should there be no immediate work available in your service area you may be sent home with pay. However, you need to be ready to report to work when called upon, either to your regular service area or as a reassignment to another service area or role for which you are qualified.

What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation means limiting contact with others. This means all situations where you may come in contact with others, such as social gatherings, work, school, child care, athletic events, university, faith-based gatherings, healthcare facilities, grocery stores, restaurants, shopping malls, and all public gatherings.

  • STAY on your own property while you are in self-isolation.
  • If you live in an apartment building, you must stay on the building's property and practice social distancing while in corridors, stairwells, elevators, other shared spaces and outdoors.
  • Do not leave home unless absolutely necessary, such as to seek medical care.
  • Do not go to school, work, other public areas or use public transportation (e.g., buses, taxis).
  • Arrange to have groceries and supplies dropped off at your door to minimize contact.
  • Stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from others in your home, if possible.
  • If you have to be in contact with others, keep at least 2 metres between yourself and the other person. Keep interactions brief and wear a mask.
  • Avoid contact with individuals with chronic conditions, compromised immune systems and older adults.
  • Avoid contact with pets if you live with other people that may also be touching the pet

Additional self-isolation information can be found at:
https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/health-and-wellness/covid-19-self-isolation

Please note: there are currently fines and legal ramifications for non-compliance of self-isolation.

If I have returned from travel am I required to self-isolate?

Within Canada:

As of March 21, 2020, the Chief Public Health Office has instituted a 14-day self-isolation period for anyone who has travelled outside PEI, including within Canada. Those who return to the Island, including health care workers will be screened for symptoms.

However, we can confirm that health care workers are exempt for the 14-day isolation period and do not have to stay home as long as they have not had symptoms of COVID-19 and have not traveled outside of Canada.

This exception is to allow health care workers to continue to offer essential services to Islanders.

As health care workers, you are trusted to monitor your own symptoms to ensure your health and safety and that of your patients. Those who have returned from travel within Canada are asked to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and leave work as soon as they start to feel unwell, including body aches, fatigue, cough, fever, or shortness of breath.

All staff should remember to practice social distancing and avoid groups to help slow the spread of the virus in this province and to help ensure you stay healthy.

If travel was international:

If you have returned before March 8, there is no need to self-isolate.

If travel was after March 8, self-isolate for 14 days. The travel within Canada health care worker exemption does not apply.

If only one member of the household needs to self-isolate and the other members of the household can maintain at all times appropriate social distancing, enhanced cleaning of all shared spaces following use and/or a designated bathroom and bedroom, then only the individual self-isolating needs to self-isolate.

If not all members of the household can ensure that these requirements are being met then all members are to follow self-isolating guidelines for the 14-day period.

Additional self-isolation information can be found at:
https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/health-and-wellness/covid-19-self-isolation

If you have any questions about this situation, please contact your HR Manager or email COVID-19 Employee Information@ihis.org

If someone in my household has returned from travel either internationally or from another Canadian province/territory in Canada, am I required to self–isolate or can I report for work?

If the person who travelled is asymptomatic the health care worker can report to work.

If the person who travelled is, or becomes, symptomatic:

  • If it is determined by calling 811 that the person who travelled requires testing for COVID-19 the health care worker must stay home and self-isolate until the test results are received.
  • If the test results for the person who travelled come back negative, the health care worker can return to work however, the person who travelled must continue to self-isolate.
  • If the test results for the person who travelled come back positive, the health care worker must stay home and self-isolate.

Additional self-isolation information can be found at:
https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/health-and-wellness/covid-19-self-isolation

I have tested positive for COVID-19 during my self-isolation period. When can I return to work?

Any health care worker who has been identified to self-isolate and receives a positive test result for COVID-19 is required to have 2 negative tests results in a 24 hour period before they can be cleared to return to work. Health care workers should continue to follow any isolation advice provided by Public Health and keep their Managers/Supervisors updated as to their status.

If health care workers are required to self-isolate, can we use sick time?

Should health care workers who are asymptomatic (not experiencing symptoms) be required to self-isolate, they will be placed on paid administrative leave, this includes casuals who had shifts that were pre-booked.

Some health care workers may have the option/ability to do telework from home. Please discuss this option with your Manager/Supervisor, if applicable.

Should a health care worker develop any symptoms of COVID-19, such as fatigue, aches, fever, cough and difficulty breathing, they should call 811 for screening to determine whether a test is appropriate. Once symptomatic, paid administrative leave ends and standard sick leave begins as outlined in the respective collective agreement.

If a health care worker tests positive for COVID-19, they will be required to continue to self-isolate and follow medical advice. This may extend past the 14 day self-isolation period.

It is important to notify your Manager/Supervisor as to changes in your status.

For detailed information related to specific circumstances, please reach out to your Human Resource Manager.

What if I don’t have sick time?

Health care workers who become symptomatic and are without adequate sick leave can take unpaid leave. While on unpaid leave, staff can access any vacation/stat/TIL banks to substitute for paid sick leave while they recover and self-isolate.

Health care workers without sick leave (including casuals) may be eligible for employment insurance benefits. Employment insurance benefits have been made easier to access by the federal government. You can find further information at servicecanada.ca 

For more detailed information, please contact your Human Resources Manager for guidance.

I have children who cannot attend early childhood centres or schools because they are closed. I have no child care to attend work. What do I do?

We recognize these closures present challenging circumstances to employees who have young children in school or daycare. We know we can count on you to do your best to balance your work and personal obligations and be present at work as much as possible.

  1. Please attempt to make alternate childcare arrangements, even for part of the day or the week.
  2. If you are unable to make alternate childcare arrangements, talk to your manager about possible options to work from home or to modify your work hours (shift changes, schedule changes, evenings and nights instead of days, etc.).
  3. If employees are able to demonstrate to their manager that they pursued all reasonable options, they will be provided with special leave with pay for those work periods where they have no reasonable alternate child care arrangements until schools and daycares re-open.

Emergency Child Care Assistance may be available through the provincial government. You do need to apply for this program. Information and the application can be found at:  https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/service/emergency-child-care-services

This is an exceptional measure and will minimize financial losses for employees.

I am pregnant or immunocompromised and am concerned about my safety in the workplace. What should I do?

If you are a health care worker who is pregnant or immunocompromised and you are concerned about your safety at work, it is recommended that your reach out to your Manager, Human Resources Manager, or a member of the Wellness & Safety Team to discuss your concerns.

My manager has suggested telework may be an option for me. What does this mean?

On a restricted basis, while maintaining essential services Managers / Supervisors may consider “working from home” for some employees.

We recognize each employee situation could be unique so these requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis with consideration given to both the needs of the employee and operational requirements of the work site and services being delivered. Although not exhaustive, circumstances where the consideration for “working from home” could include:

  • employee is required to self-isolate by potential exposure to COVID 19, but are still able to work and contribute;
  • the employee cannot be redeployed to another work area but can contribute from home;
  • or employee can work but there are no other means to keep them attached to the workplace (if service closes). Managers and supervisors should work with staff individually, collectively and collaboratively as a team to discuss what this means specifically for your program area and the work that you do. Managers/Supervisors must make it clear that working from home still requires productive / meaningful work to support the programs/ services; and it will be temporary.

It is important to remember that you may also be required to report to an alternate worksite or may be deployed on short notice. Work assignments could include counselling from home, education / training, closing files etc.

I have plans to leave the country, should I travel?

Employees who choose to travel outside of Canada following the March 13, 2020, travel restriction recommendations and the 14 day required self-isolation notification are not eligible for paid administrative leave during the 14 day self-isolation period. Should you become symptomatic you will be eligible for sick leave as outlined in your respective collective agreement.

I have decided to cancel my vacation plans and not travel outside of Canada, can I cancel my approved vacation?

Employees are encouraged to speak to their Managers to determine if this is possible.

Employees will be able to carry over vacation into the 2020 fiscal year (April 1, 2020 – March 31, 2021).

Until further notice, the Employer must limit movement of staff from one department to another to ensure that business continuity plans can be maintained. Certain exceptions may apply in exceptional circumstances based on operational need.

Please contact your Manager or HR Manager with any questions and to receive further direction.

How will we know if the situation changes?

Updated information, including information for health care providers, will be posted regularly to the website princeedwardisland.ca/covid19. Information is also available by calling the Public Health at 1-800-958-6400.

Updates to this FAQ will be posted to the Health PEI Staff Resource Centre and can be found at https://src.healthpei.ca. Hard copies will be posted on the OH&S bulletin boards in each work site for those without access to email.

Health PEI is also committed to sharing regular updates to all members of the organization through at least twice weekly reports from the Joint Operations Team. Additional reports will be distributed as required when significant changes occur. Managers are asked to post these updates for those without email.

Questions regarding benefits, leave, and work requirements should be directed to your Human Resources Manager.

Employee Assistance Program

Services continue to be available via telephone through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Please contact the EAP program if you require additional support. EAP services can be arranged by contacting 902.368.5738 or 1.800.239.3826 or eap@gov.pe.ca

As a reminder, you must report any suspect cases of COVID-19 to the CPHO as soon as observed. The PEI COVID-19 Guideline is an evergreen document and will be revised to reflect updates in recommendations. Health Care Providers can contact CPHO (Chief Public Health Office) at 902-368-4996 if you have any questions.

Published date: 
April 3, 2020