Emergency Order Issued Which Relates to Service Agencies Providing Violence Against Women Residential Services and Crisis Line Services
Date: April 16, 2020
On April 15, 2020, the Ontario government issued an Order (O. Reg. 145/20) under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) that applies to service agencies funded by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, and which provide (1) residential or emergency residential services under the Violence Against Women Support Services program or the Anti-Human Trafficking Community Supports program, or (2) provincial crisis line services under the Violence Against Women Support Services program. The Order applies for the duration of the declared emergency under the EMCPA.
Under the terms of the Order, service agencies are authorized to take, with respect to work deployment and staffing, any reasonably necessary measures to respond to, prevent and alleviate the outbreak of COVID-19. The work redeployment and staffing measures may be taken with respect to staff, contractors and volunteers who provide any of the service agency’s Ministry-funded services.
Staffing and Work Deployment
The Order specifically authorizes service agencies to do any of the following despite any other statute, regulation, order, policy, arrangement or agreement, including a collective agreement:
- identify staffing priorities and develop, modify and implement redeployment staffing plans, which include:
- redeployment of staff within different locations in (or between) premises where the service agency provides services and supports
- change of work assignments, including assigning non-bargaining unit employees or contractors to do bargaining unit work
- change of work schedules or shift assignments
- deferral or cancellation of vacations, absences or other leaves
- employment of extra staff (full-time, part-time or temporary) or contractors, who may perform bargaining unit work
- use of volunteers who may also perform bargaining unit work
- provide training and education as needed to staff and volunteers to achieve the purposes of the redeployment plan
- assess the skills and experience of staff to determine whether they can perform alternative roles in any area
- require and collect information from staff or contractors regarding their availability to provide services, and about their likely or actual exposure to COVID-19 or other health conditions that may affect their ability to provide support and services.
The Order specifically states that “a service agency may implement redeployment plans without complying with provisions of a collective agreement, including lay-off, seniority/service or bumping provisions.” Notwithstanding that wording, we strongly recommend that you seek legal advice with respect to potential liability before implementing a redeployment plan.
The Order also states that any grievance process with respect to any matter referred to in the order is suspended for the duration of the Order.
Services agencies are still required to comply with any order or directive issued under the Health Protection and Promotion Act as it relates to a service agency.
Should you have any questions regarding this Order and how it impacts your organization, please contact Michael Smyth at 416.864.7039, Lauri Reesor at 416.864.7288 or your regular Hicks Morley lawyer.
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