Unifor Message : Bell entry into customer premises

Members entering customer premises….memo

March 27, 2020

Over the course of the last number of days and weeks during the ongoing pandemic, members of your health and safety structures, your bargaining committees and representatives of the national union have all worked diligently to advocate for your safety at work and to keep our members working.

One area that has been continuously evolving is how we advocate for the protection of members entering customer premises.

For days now, we have witnessed other telco companies in Canada move to a complete ban on entering customer homes. Bell has yet to take the same position for what they submit are good reasons. Our members are anxious and have reached out to the union to convey their concerns, which we have conveyed to the company.

According to company estimates, in excess of 70% of jobs can be done without entering the home.

It is our position, given all that is happening in the world, that entering the home should be done on a volunteer basis only. Concerned employees need to work with their manager to convey these concerns.

This position has been conveyed to the company. In discussions with the company we understand a new updated customer premise policy is forthcoming.

We will continue to work with the company on issues as this situation evolves.


In solidarity,
Chris MacDonald                               John Caluori
Assistant to the President                Assistant to the Quebec Director

Ontario fiscal update fails to provide direct financial support to workers affected by COVID-19

March 25, 2020

TORONTO—The fiscal update provided by Ontario Minister of Finance Rod Phillips today failed to enact adequate measures to protect Ontarians from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“As this deadly and costly pandemic unfolds, Ontarians deserved to see far more from their government in today’s update,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Minister Philips spoke at length about protecting the cash flow of businesses but had shockingly little to say about the cash flow of Ontarians and that’s completely unacceptable.”

Unifor has been demanding urgent action from the Ford government, including immediate relief for workers affected by the pandemic or the broader economic effects of the government’s public health response. These measures should include instituting a minimum of 14 paid sick days and establishing direct, emergency income assistance measures. The full recommendations from Unifor are outlined in a letter to the Premier here.

The government announced only small one-time payments for families with children and limited other measures to offer minor relief with utility costs and student loans. With record-numbers of layoffs and Employment Insurance claims in recent days, the federal government and other provincial jurisdictions are providing greater direct support measures than the government of Ontario.

Minister Philips also announced a $3.3 billion funding increase as part of the government’s health care response to COVID-19. While greater detail is needed on the government’s planned deployment of the funding in the short-term, health care workers must see a more substantial investment to address chronic, long-term underfunding of health care in Ontario, with a clear plan to reopen and staff shuttered hospital beds.

“Today’s announcement leaves countless thousands of Ontarians out of what should have been the most ambitious and substantive direct income assistance plan we’ve seen in generations,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor’s Ontario Regional Director. “Instead, this government is failing in its responsibility to provide direct emergency relief to Ontario workers, as so many other provinces and countries have already done.”

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

Ottawa has stalled too long on EI reform, new action needed

March 23, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor is calling on MPs to use the special Tuesday Parliamentary session to move quickly on reform and pass emergency measures to ensure all workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have a reliable, decent paycheque.

“We are facing a crisis of catastrophic proportions that requires fast action from government. Despite promising first steps, federal progress on worker supports has stalled and I’m afraid our opportunity for quick action may have passed,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

Unifor is calling on Parliament to pass emergency measures on Tuesday to expedite the delivery of paycheques to displaced working families, through whatever means necessary, including via existing employer payroll systems or direct payments to households.

“Canada’s workers were feeling the squeeze before they were forced out of a job by this pandemic. Without a dramatic change of tack, in a few more days laid-off workers will be left with empty cupboards and bare dinner tables,” said Dias.

In December of last year, a survey by MNP found that nearly half of Canadians were $200 or less away from financial insolvency. Federal funding announcements to date have not addressed the immediate need of Canadian families to cover necessities.

Two-thirds of the of the federal support package announced by government on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 is not income support but will instead be delivered in tax deferrals to business and individuals, while new income support programs for those who do not qualify for E.I. will take weeks to even begin accepting applications.

“Last week, more than 500,000 individual E.I. claims were filed and there is no reason to expect that number to slow down,” said Lana Payne, Unifor Secretary-Treasurer. “Millions more will have their work interrupted by this pandemic. The E.I. system, once overwhelmed, is now completely under water.”

Canada sits on the lower end of the spectrum as governments around the world such as New Zealand, Sweden, and America have already pledged four to six per cent of GDP towards immediate fiscal support. Canada should consider adopting creative solutions as the UK has done in pledging income replacement to be paid out to businesses that keep employees on payroll instead of forcing layoffs.

“Members of Parliament need to be prepared to make an immediate decision about how they plan to fund income replacement for Canada’s workers tomorrow. If the E.I. system cannot handle these claims in a timely way, an immediate alternative is needed to ensure hardworking Canadian families do not fall into financial ruin,” continued Dias.

Information about the union’s response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members can be found at unifor.org/COVID19.

Mental Health Resources


Maintaining mental health is a challenge for many of us at the best of times.

The health and economic impacts of COVID-19 are exacerbating these struggles for many and stretching the limits of mental health for people around the world, including Unifor members. If you are struggling with mental health and addictions during this time we want you to know you are not alone – many of your friends and colleagues are experiencing the same struggles right now.

In normal times, 1 in 5 Canadians will struggle with mental illness. These afflictions are a disease not a choice. You deserve to get the help and support you need to manage these challenging times.

Each person’s struggle with mental health is different. The resources below can help you navigate the tremendous amount of resources available in our community to find the support that is right for you.

Download the PDF for the website links

Download here


We Listen Up

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Bell Let’s Talk announces new funding for 5 organizations delivering mental health supports to youth, families and communities in the COVID-19 crisis

Read the article here…

  • Donations to address urgent need for increased resources with support for Canadian Red Cross, Canadian Mental Health Association, Kids Help Phone, Revivre and Strongest Families Institute
  • Red Cross, CMHA and Revivre to enhance service delivery on the front lines of our communities; Kids Help Phone and Strongest Families employing multiple communications platforms to support youth and families in a time of physical and social distancing
  • Bell Let’s Talk funding commitment increased by $5 million in response to COVID-19 crisis

MONTRÉAL, March 26, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ – Bell Let’s Talk today announced a special program to support 5 organizations delivering mental health support on the front lines of Canadian communities and to kids and families with remote tools in a time of social distancing.

Part of a $5 million increase in Bell Let’s Talk funding in response to COVID-19, donations to Canadian Red Cross, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Kids Help PhoneRevivre and Strongest Families Institute are enabling them to enhance their efforts to support Canadians confronting isolation, anxiety and other challenges during the crisis.

“The biggest public health crisis in a lifetime, COVID-19 demands an unprecedented response across every part of Canadian society, including finding new ways to accelerate the delivery of mental health services in such a challenging time,” said Mirko Bibic, President and CEO of BCE Inc. and Bell Canada. “We’ve increased Bell Let’s Talk funding by $5 million in direct response to the COVID-19 crisis, and are proud to be working with the Red Cross, CMHA, Kids Help Phone, Revivre and Strongest Families to immediately direct new mental health resources where they’re needed most.”

Community response

  • Experts in helping communities cope with crisis situations, the Red Cross is providing mental health and psychosocial support by phone, including referrals for available specialized care, and working with other first responders to support those in self isolation.
  • CMHA, with its regional and local branches that are on the front line of community mental health care, is working to adapt programming and services to virtual settings and to scale up existing virtual programs nationally.
  • Revivre is dedicated to helping people throughout Québec regain control over their mental health, and is implementing new strategies for virtual support programs for anxiety and depression.

Youth and families

  • Kids Help Phone is ramping up the capacity of its Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone, including recruiting and training responders, and developing new COVID-specific digital content for youth and parents.
  • Strongest Families Institute is building out technological and human resources capacity to meet growing demand for its services, including hiring and training more coaches and launching a secure mobile connection to increase connectivity with clients.

“These organizations are all leaders in their fields with effective, evidence-based programming that is already making a difference for Canadians. As the COVID-19 crisis continues, they are all well placed to meet the growing demand from Canadians everywhere for mental health support,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk. “We are proud to help ensure the Red Cross, CMHA, Kids Help Phone, Revivre and Strongest Families Institute have added capacity in place to deliver their vital services as we all face the challenges of COVID-19.”

Bell recently announced the extension of the Bell Let’s Talk initiative for a further 5 years and an increase in total Bell funding for mental health to $150 million by 2025. With the $5 million announced today in response to the COVID-19 crisis, total Bell Let’s Talk funding grows to $155 million.

Canadian Red Cross
“The support provided today from Bell Let’s Talk comes at an essential time when Canadian Red Cross is not only responding to needs emerging across the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also preparing for the possibility of floods, wildfires and other disasters that may affect families and communities in the weeks and months ahead,” said Conrad Sauvé, President and CEO, Canadian Red Cross. “In addition to providing comfort and care to those in need, the Red Cross also helps provide vital psychosocial support to people as they cope during challenging times, such as these.”

Canadian Mental Health Association – CMHA
“For over 100 years, CMHA has been proud to support Canadians’ mental health in their time of need. This generous support from Bell Let’s Talk will enable us to adapt essential community-level programs, services and supports to provide creative, responsive and vital resources in this trying time,” said Margaret Eaton, national CEO, CMHA. “We may be keeping ourselves at a distance from each other right now – but we need each other more than ever. Thank you, Bell Let’s Talk.”

Kids Help Phone
“We are grateful to Bell for their leadership in inciting critical conversations about mental health and well-being, especially during this unprecedented time,” said Katherine Hay, President and CEO, Kids Help Phone. “This support ensures Kids Help Phone can respond to the record surge in the demand for our virtual services providing immediate access to Crisis Responders and counsellors. We are open on the frontlines 24/7. This is what Kids Help Phone was built for, with thanks to Bell as our Founding Partner.”

“This donation from Bell Let’s Talk will make it possible to offer our J’avance! workshops in an urgently needed virtual format, providing quick help to thousands of Quebecers living with anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder,” said Jean-Rémy Provost, Executive Director of Revivre. “This kind of immediate help in response to the COVID-19 crisis is extremely welcome as we work to support our clients as quickly as possible, including in online group workshops.”

Strongest Families Institute
“Strongest Families Institute is grateful to Bell Let’s Talk for its generous gift. Our distance services remain available to help children, youth, adults and families who are struggling with mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and behavioural challenges. This funding will increase our telephone support work force, including help for those in rural or under-resourced communities and fund enhancements to process increased demands for service,” said Dr. Patricia Lingley-Pottie, President and CEO, Strongest Families Institute. “With this donation we can help more Canadians, promote good mental health and equip people with valuable skills to improve quality of life during these challenging times.”

About Bell Let’s Talk
The largest-ever corporate commitment to mental health in Canada, Bell Let’s Talk is focused on 4 key action pillars – Anti-stigma, Care and Access, Research and Workplace Leadership. Since its launch in 2010, Bell Let’s Talk has partnered with more than 1,000 organizations providing mental health services throughout Canada, including hospitals, universities, local community service providers and other care and research organizations.

To learn more about Bell Let’s Talk, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.