April 3, 2020

Ontario Government Files Emergency Order for Retirement Homes

What this means for you

On April 2, we spoke with Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) Jacqueline Cureton of the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility.

We were advised that the province has filed an emergency order in respect of the Retirement Homes Act. This order will allow employers to take any reasonably necessary measure with respect to work deployment and staffing to respond to, prevent, and alleviate the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) for residents.

The ADM advised that swift and immediate action is necessary. This emergency order is designed to ease collective agreement restrictions that interfere with a need to deploy regular workers, casual employees, volunteers, and managers to provide resident care. It is in effect for 14 days but can be extended.

If necessary, and for a limited time, your employer has the power to

  1. Change work assignments, schedules, and work locations
  2. Cancel vacations and leaves
  3. Use contractors, volunteers, or managers for any work
  4. Train you to do other tasks
  5. Require staff to identify when they are available to work

Additionally, you can be obligated to let your employer know if

  1. You have any skills for alternative roles in your workplace
  2. You have had any “likely or actual” exposure to the virus “or about any other health conditions that may affect [your] ability to provide services”
  3. Any grievance filed with respect to this order will be suspended for the duration of the order.

We let the ADM know that our members need more personal protective equipment. We also raised the need for higher wages for retirement home workers during this pandemic.

CLAC staff have recently corresponded with all retirement homes that employ our members. We noted that other industries, including other healthcare environments, have already offered increased compensation to support workers who remain working during the crisis, and who incur additional costs by doing so. You can read about that effort here.

CLAC is continuing to work on your behalf to ensure that you are safe and have financial stability and security.