Ontario Implements Third Emergency Order to Support Long-Term Care Homes Amid COVID-19 Outbreak – Updated April 15/20

The Government of Ontario implemented a third emergency order designed to ensure that residents of long-term care homes have the requisite care and protection amid the outbreak of COVID-19. More specifically, this temporary order implements more aggressive testing, screening, and surveillance of long-term care home residents and staff, takes additional steps to manage outbreaks and spread of the disease, and allows for the redeployment of health care workers into long-term care homes.

The most significant change seen under this order is the limiting of long-term care employees to work in only one location, beginning April 22, 2020. Long-term care providers must ensure that their employees only work in one-long term care home. Employees in this sector will no longer be able to work in multiple retirement homes or other health care settings.

An employee to whom this Order applies shall comply even if doing so would not be in compliance with the provisions of a collective agreement.

Emergency orders already in place in the long-term care sector authorize long-term care homes to take any reasonably necessary measure to respond to, prevent and alleviate the outbreak of COVID-19.

With regards to staffing, the order provides the following:

  • Long-term care home licensees may fill any staff position with the person who, in their reasonable opinion, has the adequate skills, training and knowledge to perform the duties required of the position;
  • Long-term care home licensees are not required to ensure that the minimum number of staffing hours set out in the Long-Term Care Homes Act and associated regulation are met for a position, provided all the care requirements associated with that position are met;
  • Work that is normally restricted to employees within a bargaining-unit or covered by a collective agreement may be assigned to non-bargaining unit and non-unionized employees;
  • Long-term care home licensees are not required to meet the screening measures set out in the Long-Term Care Homes Act and associated regulation, provided they adopt other measures to ensure resident care and safety;
  • Long-term care home licensees are not required to meet the training and orientation requirements set out in the Long-Term Care Homes Act and associated regulation, provided they ensure staff and volunteers take measures to ensure resident care and safety; and
  • The order states that redeployment plans can be implemented without complying with provisions of a collective agreement, including lay-off, seniority/service or bumping provisions.

As well, the Ministry of Long-Term Care will also be redeploying its inspectors to provide additional assistance in long-term care homes as the province continues to combat the pandemic. These nurses, dieticians and physiotherapists will provide support to homes through various measures, including staff supply, care coordination, and other means of preventing and containing the virus.

Additional information on the steps that Ontario is taking to manage COVID-19 in the long-term care centre can be found here.

We will continue to update our clients with information as soon as it becomes available. If you have any questions about this topic, other COVID-19 related questions, or would like assistance with developing and/or reviewing pandemic plans, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer, or refer to the Firm’s COVID-19 website resources.

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