Ontario Amends Rules Relating to Staffing in Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes in Light of Surge in COVID-19 Cases
Date: April 27, 2021
On April 23, 2021, the Ontario government filed a number of regulations with respect to long-term care and retirement homes in light of the pandemic and the ongoing strain it has placed on healthcare staffing. In this HR Healthcheck we outline the key aspects of these regulations.
Work Redeployment For Local Health Integration Networks And Ontario Health
O. Reg. 312/21 amends the Work Redeployment For Local Health Integration Networks and Ontario Health Order made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) which we discussed in our HR Healthcheck of April 12, 2021.
The terms of the Order remain the same, but the redeployment of health professionals by local health integration networks and Ontario Health to hospitals has been expanded to include redeployment to long-term care homes and retirement homes.
Exceptions to Limiting Work to a Single Long-Term Care Home or Retirement Home
O. Reg. 309/21 amends the Limiting Work To A Single Long-Term Care Home Order made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA). That order prohibited an employee of a long-term care provider performing work in a home operated or maintained by that provider from performing work in: (1) another long-term care home operated or maintained by the long-term care provider, (2) as an employee of any other health service provider, or (3) as an employee of a retirement home. The Order also placed a positive obligation on the long-term care provider to ensure that its employees were not performing work in one of these other identified locations in violation of the Order.
The new amendment creates an exception to this prohibition for employees who are fully immunized against COVID-19, unless otherwise directed by a medical officer. Under the amendment, an individual is fully immunized against COVID-19 if they have received the total required number of doses of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by Health Canada and received their final dose of the vaccine at least 14 days earlier.
The same exception was introduced for retirement home employees through O. Reg. 318/21, which amends the Limiting Work To A Single Retirement Home Order. That Order outlines the similar prohibitions as the above Order in respect of employees performing work at retirement homes.
Employers are required to post the applicable regulatory amendment in a conspicuous and easily accessible location in the workplace.
Agreements Between Health Service Providers and Retirement Homes
The provincial government also introduced a new order under the EMCPA, Agreements Between Health Service Providers And Retirement Homes. The Order applies where a health service provider (as defined) and the licensee of a retirement home have, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, entered into an agreement “to have the retirement home provide alternative space, accommodation or care services for patients of the health service provider, or former patients of the health service provider who were discharged during the [pandemic] emergency, on a temporary, short-term basis.”
The Order specifies that such an agreement will not impact whether the health service provider or the retirement home are considered to be a hospital for the purposes of the Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act (Act) or to be the basis for a related employer or sale of business application between the home and health service provider under the Labour Relations Act, 1995. More specifically, the Order ensures that the status of a retirement home under the Act is not changed by virtue of the agreement or arrangement where that home was already a hospital for the purposes of the Act before the agreement or arrangement was made, or would be considered a hospital under the Act for reasons unrelated to the agreement or arrangement.
The status of a health service provider under the Act is also not changed by virtue of the agreement or arrangement, including with respect to any operations conducted by the health service provider at a retirement home by virtue of the agreement or arrangement.
Restrictions on Charges for Long-Term Care Accommodation
O. Reg. 311/21 amends the General Regulation made under the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007. Subject to the conditions set out in the regulation, a licensee of a long-term care home is restricted from charging a person for accommodation where that person is moved from a hospital bed and is admitted to that long-term care home in order to reduce the capacity pressures facing hospitals during the pandemic. This applies in respect of residents who are admitted to a long-term care home on or after April 23, 2021.
All regulatory amendments above came into effect on April 23, 2021.
Should you require further information about these amendments, please contact your regular Hicks Morley lawyer.
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