Saturday , October 16 2021

Front-line workers carry the burden of vaccine warrants on their shoulders

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Service industry workers in Canada say they bear the brunt of the anger, frustration and widespread confusion of customers about the new vaccination mandates that had nothing to do with the creation, but are now responsible for doing so. complete.

At the entrance to Wienstein & Gavino’s, an Italian restaurant in downtown Montreal, hostess Abigail Trevino is ready to greet guests and ask them for proof of vaccination.

“I try to unravel the situation usually with a joke, saying that I currently feel more like a lazy person than a stewardess,” Trevino said. “Usually people laugh at that and it’s enough to break the tension.”

He said most people have understood Quebec’s vaccine passport system, which went into effect on Sept. 1.

“I made someone visibly bother me, but he actually came back and apologized afterwards and said,‘ I realize you don’t follow the rules; I’m sorry I lost my temper. “

“Double workload”

The challenge, more than anything, has been the extra work. “It’s basically doubled the workload,” Trevino said.

From troubleshooting technical issues with QR codes and smartphone apps, to answering phone calls from people asking what kind of proof is accepted, Trevino said her responsibilities as a hostess have expanded from suddenly.

While, in principle, he agrees with the vaccine passport, he would like to receive more recognition from the government about the additional burden it poses to companies and their employees, when they are already facing the shortage. of staff.

“We’re doing a lot of extra work with no extra money, and it’s consuming the time it takes to settle people. It slows everything down,” Trevino said.

“It would be nice if people could be a little nicer with the restaurant workers, because I understand that it’s frustrating that people have to take out their ID and they don’t always expect it … [But] if people could just be patient and understanding and realize we don’t make the rules. ”

At Hearty Hooligan, a vegan restaurant in Hamilton, management said its main concern is to make sure front-line staff feel safe. (Submitted by Hearty Hooligan)

At the Ontario border, people have had less time to get used to the vaccine certificate requirements, which went into effect Wednesday.

The rules apply to spaces included in the interior areas of restaurants and bars, gyms and recreational facilities and entertainment spaces.

Hearty Hooligan, a vegan restaurant in Hamilton, warned customers of the changes last week via a post on their Instagram account.

“Providing vaccination tests when you want to have dinner is the law,” the message states. “Front-line workers have suffered a lot of abuse throughout this pandemic and we will not tolerate any harassment by these policies.”

The Hearty Hooligan warned its customers that vaccination requirements would take effect with this Instagram post. (The Hearty Hooligan / Instagram)

But in response, Chef Matthew Miles said he had faced an onslaught of angry comments from people accusing them of everything from discrimination to supporting tyranny.

When the mask warrant came into effect, Miles said customers had to enter the maskless restaurant arguing about their rights. They are preparing this kind of attitude.

To help protect staff, the restaurant installed a bell in the front until it rang directly in the kitchen, so employees could ask for extra help if there was a conflict.

“Our problem right now is primarily the safety of our front-line staff. We want them to feel supported and feel safe in their workspace,” Miles said.

Inspections and fines

In response to these concerns, a spokesman for the Ontario Minister of Health said state officials are responsible for enforcing the new requirements and that inspectors will visit establishments to provide assistance and support to staff.

Ontario workers are asked to call 911 if they feel threatened with denying entry to someone who refuses to comply.

In Quebec, people trying to enter places that require a vaccination passport without the risk of receiving fines ranging from $ 1,000 to $ 6,000. Companies that do not enforce vaccine passport rules can also receive fines of between $ 1,000 and $ 6,000.

Alberta’s new vaccination testing program is not mandatory, but some of the companies that have chosen to adopt it say they are prepared to call the police if people refuse to cooperate.

The Quebec vaccine and passport system went into effect on September 1, followed by a two-week education period. People need to show digital or printed evidence of vaccination for many non-essential activities and businesses. Other provinces are just beginning to deploy their systems. (Ivanoh Demers / Radio-Canada)

Outside the restaurant and bar industry, workers from various sectors are now adding to the task list the application of public health restrictions.

Nadia Ali, a 19-year-old student at Carleton University who works part-time as a lifeguard, recently learned that she would have to check on swimmers for vaccination tests.

The pool where he works is in an Ottawa condominium building and Ali said some residents have been angry about the changes.

“A lady came in and told me that I was unfair and discriminated against and that I would not come here again,” Ali said. “I just told him, ‘I’m sorry, but I’m just enforcing the rules, I didn’t do them.'”

His management has been supportive, he said, and if any residents were aggressive, he would ask for help at the front desk. So far he hasn’t gotten to that.

More than anything, Ali said, it’s a lot of work and a lot of work. Expect the process to be smoother over time.

Additional anxiety

It’s all because employees are in an unfair position they never signed up for, according to Toronto labor lawyer Muneeza Sheikh.

“What we’re doing, basically, is putting employees in a combative scenario when that’s not part of their job duty,” he said.

Sheikh said some of his clients have hired entirely new staff (if they can afford it) to enforce vaccine mandates. But for establishments that are unsafe or cannot afford it, he said vaccine requirements put them in a difficult position.

“There are Canadian employees who have a lot of anxiety about working now around this vaccination passport and how it will be implemented,” he said.

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