Funeral workers across Saskatchewan are asking for the government to consider them priority in the province’s vaccine rollout.
President of the Saskatchewan Funeral Service Association John Schachtel says they want to be considered front line workers due to the nature of their work.
“We are exposed every time we go there for a death call, it’s not the paramedics, it’s not the firefighters, not the police, it’s us that are exposed,” said Schachtel. “Our chances of bringing Covid into our funeral homes is very scary in the sense that, if our death care industry goes down, whos going to be there to look after the dead and the bereaved?”
Schachtel says the funeral service industry is always busy, but with the ever- increasing total of COVID-19 deaths, 2020 has been very difficult.
“Our job is 24 hours a day, when there’s a death, we’re there for the family, we’re there for the care home or hospital, or wherever this person passes away,” said Schachtel. “We’re around the clock, 24 hours a day, the death care industry does not stop, so we have to keep our people, our staff, our professional funeral directors and embalmers safe from this COVID-19 virus.”
He urges people to remember that daily COVID-19 case numbers represent real people, and many people are left waiting for the chance to say goodbye to those they’ve lost.
“No matter what the case is, this time of year is a very sad time to lose a loved one,” said Schachtel. “The other sad thing is that sometimes they have to die alone because you’re not allowed up in the ward because of COVID-19. There’s a lot of sadness in these times, and of course, people can’t be together so it’s very difficult.”
Schachtel asks everybody to keep following the COVID-19 guidelines in place, as every little action prevents someone from getting sick and dying.