March 21, 2020

Ontario Government Files Emergency Order for Hospital Employees

The Ministry of Health announced a temporary order which will give hospitals the ability to cancel and postpone services to free-up space and valuable staff, identify staffing priorities, and develop, modify, and implement redeployment plans. Under this temporary order hospitals will be able to respond to, prevent, and alleviate an outbreak of COVID-19 by carrying out measures such as:

  • redeploying staff within different locations in (or between) facilities of the hospital;
  • redeploying staff to work in COVID-19 assessment centres;
  • changing the assignment of work, including assigning non-bargaining unit employees or contractors to perform bargaining unit work;
  • changing the scheduling of work or shift assignments;
  • deferring or cancelling vacations, absences, or other leaves, regardless of whether such vacations, absences, or leaves are established by statute, regulation, agreement, or otherwise;
  • employing extra part-time or temporary staff or contractors, including for the purpose of performing bargaining unit work;
  • using volunteers to perform work, including to perform bargaining work; and
  • providing appropriate training or education as needed to staff and volunteers to achieve the purposes of a redeployment plan.

When utilized by hospitals, these redeployment plans temporarily supersede the provisions of a collective agreement, including lay off, seniority/service, or bumping provisions. For example, currently a hospital would be required to post a lay-off notice and wait a period of time before being able to move a nurse or other unionized employee from an emergency department to a COVID-19 assessment centre. These measures would allow for the redeployment of staff to address the containment of COVID-19 without restriction or delay.

This time-limited order is valid for 14 days unless revoked or renewed in accordance with the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.