Manitoba correctional officers given expired medical masks

WINNIPEG — Correctional officers in Manitoba were supplied expired medicals masks by their employers, according to the union that represents them.

Correctional officers’ masks were more than 10 years old and years beyond their expiry date, according to an email obtained by CTV News Winnipeg, from the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU) sent to its corrections members on Monday night.

The MGEU notified senior management at Manitoba Justice about the situation. The department agreed to deliver unexpired masks to correctional facilities on Monday night.

The MGEU noted it will follow-up with Manitoba Justice about its plans.

A spokesperson for the union said they also filed a grievance last week, which says the employer is failing to properly protect correctional staff “by not providing full medical personal protective equipment (PPE) related to COVID-19, and exposing them to unnecessary risk, contrary to provisions of the Workplace Safety and Health Act, and the Collective Agreement. In doing so, the Employer is not acting in a manner which is reasonable, in good faith, and in a manner consistent with the Collective Agreement as a whole.”

Over the last several weeks, CTV News Winnipeg has been reporting COVID-19 cases at Manitoba jails, including at the Headingley Correctional Centre, the Brandon Correctional Centre, the Manitoba Youth Centre and the Winnipeg Remand Centre.

“While tonight’s positive response from government is welcome, MGEU continues to believe that, to stop the spread of COVID-19 inside jails, correctional officers need to have medical grade PPE, including medical masks, gowns and gloves, for all inmate interactions, even if the inmate and officer are asymptomatic,” the MGEU said in an email on Monday.”

“We will continue to press for this critical protective gear.”

CTV News Winnipeg has reached out to the province for comment.

CTV News Winnipeg previously reported that the province provided Manitoba schools and daycares expired masks.

The province previously said in regards to the expired masks provided to schools and daycares that Infection Prevention and Control, as well as Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health recently reviewed the masks and deemed them acceptable for use.

– With files from CTV’s Mike Arsenault.

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