Our response to the Ontario Ministry of Health’s extraordinary steps to contain COVID-19

As front-line professionals delivering critical health care in our province, we want to recognize the demanding and stressful time that our members, their colleagues, families and loved ones face.

PIPSC President Debi Daviau, on behalf of all PIPSC members, joins all Canadians in expressing appreciation to our members in health services for their dedication and commitment in responding to this crisis.

We are working hard to respond to the concerns identified by the following ON Groups:

  • Sunnybrook Mechanical and Electronic Technologists (SUN-MET)
  • Sunnybrook Radiation Therapists (SUN-RT)
  • Radiation Therapists - Juravinski Cancer Centre (JCC)
  • Radiation Therapist - Thunder Bay Regional (TBH-RT)
  • Windsor Radiation Therapists (WRH-RT)

On March 21, 2020, the Ontario Ministry of Health announced it was implementing “Extraordinary Steps to Ensure Health Care Resources are Available to Contain COVID-19.” This temporary order provides hospitals with 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 including Hamilton Health Sciences, Niagara Health, Sunnybrook Health Sciences, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, Windsor Regional Hospital, will be able to respond to, prevent and alleviate an outbreak of COVID-19 by carrying out measures such as:

  1. Redeploying staff within different locations in (or between) facilities of the hospital;
  2. Redeploying staff to work in COVID-19 assessment centres;
  3. Changing the assignment of work, including assigning non-bargaining unit employees or contractors to perform bargaining unit work;
  4. Changing the scheduling of work or shift assignments;
  5. Deferring or cancelling vacations, absences or other leaves, regardless of whether such vacations, absences or leaves are established by statute, regulation, agreement or otherwise;
  6. Employing extra part-time or temporary staff or contractors, including for the purpose of performing bargaining unit work;
  7. Using volunteers to perform work, including to perform bargaining work;
  8. 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. This could include lay-offs, seniority/service or bumping provisions, allowing 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.

These exceptional and unprecedented measures are concerning for our members.

President Daviau has written to the Presidents of Hamilton Health Sciences, Niagara Health, Sunnybrook Health Sciences, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and Windsor Regional Hospital to express our commitment to collaborate and ensure the response to the crisis is effective and all risks for patients and staff are minimized to the greatest extent possible.

In return, we asked for the hospital’s commitment to consult and collaborate with our representatives to draw upon their experience and knowledge to ensure the most effective, sustainable and safe response.

The success of this crisis response ultimately relies upon the capacity of the workforce to maintain services under stressful circumstances for an extended period.

The health and safety of hospital employees must be maintained. This includes:

  1. Where redeployment is considered necessary, ensuring employees are adequately equipped, trained and qualified to perform the required work;
  2. Should reassignment or rescheduling be considered necessary, ensuring adequate notice to allow employees to manage family responsibilities, including childcare, elder care and sufficient rest periods;
  3. Ensuring that work from home arrangements for employees not required on-site are utilized and supported to the fullest extent possible;
  4. Providing paid leave to employees forced to stay home due to sickness, quarantine or family care in those situations where alternate care cannot be arranged; and
  5. Ensure Personal Protective Equipment is deployed when appropriate, without exception.

PIPSC staff are taking immediate steps to address these items further with the hospital and your group representatives.

If you feel your health and safety or that of a patient or colleague is jeopardized by a task or assignment that you are being asked to perform, please contact your steward immediately.

For questions about your rights and responsibilities in the workplace, please fill out the COVID-19 Help Form to reach our Labour Relations team.

PIPSC stands behind our members in ensuring they have the support to fulfill their professional responsibilities.