Retirement Homes Given Staffing Powers in Light of COVID-19
Date: April 3, 2020
On April 2, 2020, the Ontario government issued an order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act authorizing every retirement home and licensee (within the meaning of the Retirements Homes Act, 2010) to take all reasonable steps necessary to respond to, prevent and alleviate the outbreak of COVID-19 in a retirement home.
Similar to other orders which relate to staffing options for health service providers, long-term care homes and public health units, O. Reg. 118/20, Work Deployment Measures in Retirement Homes, requires and authorizes licensees to identify staffing priorities and develop, modify and implement redeployment plans, including doing the following:
- change work assignments and scheduling
- assign non-bargaining unit staff to perform bargaining unit work
- defer or cancel vacation, absences or other leaves, regardless of whether they are established by statute, regulation, agreement or otherwise
- assign and employ extra part-time/temporary staff, or contractors, and use volunteers, to perform work (including bargaining unit work)
- suspend, for the duration of the emergency, screening measures under s. 64 of the Retirement Homes Act, 2010, including police record checks, if other screening measures that ensure the care and safety of residents are conducted before hiring staff or accepting new volunteers. Screening measures related to COVID-19 must, however, be continued.
Licensees must provide appropriate training or education as needed to staff and volunteers to achieve the purposes of their redeployment plans and to ensure the care and safety of residents.
Licensees are required and authorized to conduct any skills and experience inventories of staff to identify possible alternative roles in priority areas, and to collect certain specified information from staff, contractors or volunteers.
Licensees are also obligated to report an outbreak of COVID-19 to the Authority under the Retirement Homes Act, 2010 on the same day it is reported to the local medical officer of health or their designate. Interdisciplinary case conferences that do not relate to responding to, preventing, or alleviating the outbreak of COVID-19 are to be cancelled or postponed.
This direction and authority is given to licensees “despite any other statute, regulation, order, policy, arrangement or agreement, including a collective agreement.” The redeployment plans may be implemented “without complying with provisions of a collective agreement, including seniority/service or bumping provisions.” Any grievance process regarding any matter under this order is also suspended for the duration of the emergency.
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