March 23, 2020

Ontario Government Files Emergency Order for Long Term Care Homes

We spoke with Ontario Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton. We were advised that the province has filed an emergency order that will allow long term care homes “to take, with respect to work deployment and staffing, any reasonably necessary measure to respond to, prevent, and alleviate the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) for residents.

The minister 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

Any grievance filed with respect to this order will be suspended for the duration of the order.

Additionally, the following amendments were made to Ontario Regulation 79/10 under the Long-Term Care Homes Act to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Allow homes to be exempt from requiring an RN on site 24/7 in cases where the pandemic prevents an RN from being present in the home
  2. Temporarily provide for flexibility in the timing of police record checks
  3. Prioritize the timing of specific training requirements such as abuse, infection prevention, and control and ensure those requirements are completed as soon as possible
  4. Allow the director of nursing and personal care to work on the floor