WINNIPEG -- The largest union in the province is wanting an immediate personal protective equipment (PPE) and staffing strategy for long-term care facilities.

“We are hearing from health care support workers in many long-term care homes, public and private, that front-line staff are not receiving adequate PPE, and that available levels change daily,” said Shannon McAteer, CUPE health care coordinator, in a news release.

The union is wanting health officials to also make a commitment to ensure "consistent and adequate" PPE for all workers.

CUPE feels there cannot be any holes in the protection of staff and residents at care homes and that all staff should be provided PPE.

“We know that care homes have some of our most vulnerable citizens, and we need to ensure that caregivers have every tool possible to protect themselves and the residents because things could get desperate,” McAteer said.

CUPE said care homes have been short-staffed for years and it feels that if staff are told to self-quarantine it could cause major safety issues.

“Staff desperately need consistent PPE. This is compounded by the fact that long-term care facilities in Manitoba have been working short-staffed for years, with insufficient staff to resident ratios, and if one or two staff get ill or are told to self-quarantine, it will affect the entire facility,” said McAteer.

She said there is no time for delays.

“Other provinces are dealing with serious outbreaks at care homes, and significant challenges with the safety of staff and residents. We cannot make those same mistakes here,” McAteer said.