SASKATOON -- The Saskatchewan Government Employees Union (SGEU), which represents corrections officers, is calling on the province for more personal protective equipment.

President Bob Bymoen said his members haven’t reported a shortage in masks and gloves, but said those items are in high demand.

“When I talk to the staff they’re committed to do their jobs, they understand that that’s their call to duty. They just want to know that they have adequate personal protective equipment and that there’s processes in place that will help keep them safe and the inmates safe,” Bymoen said.

A fifth positive COVID-19 test among staff at Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre reported Wednesday is igniting calls for more testing at correctional centres, so the Ministry of Health can identify where the virus has travelled.

“I can’t express how important that is from the staff point of view,” Bymoen said.

The positive test isn’t sparking fear among the corrections workers and he understands the Ministry of Corrections is doing its part to reduce the number of inmates inside the correctional facilities to protect both staff and inmates, he said.

“They understand the risk and they are trying to manage that and the best thing the government can do is be honest with the workers so they know what’s happening inside those centres,” he said.

The justice ministry has no reason to believe any of the five cases were spread within the correctional facility, according to a spokesperson.

“We are working with public health officials on contact tracing and ensuring all appropriate actions are being taken to protect staff and offenders,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Earlier this week Bymoen said in a statement the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the vulnerability of correctional centres to disease and outbreaks, providing another reason why the longstanding problem of overcrowding needs to be addressed quickly.