Ontario Takes Further Action to Protect Vulnerable People from COVID-19

News Release

Ontario Takes Further Action to Protect Vulnerable People from COVID-19

Province makes it easier to reassign staff where they are needed most

April 17, 2020 7:00 A.M.

Office of the Premier

TORONTO — To help stop the spread of COVID-19 among the province’s most vulnerable citizens and ensure frontline services can continue to be delivered in priority areas, the Ontario government has issued new temporary emergency orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

“Every day, incredible sacrifices are being made by frontline workers in every region of the province to care for our most vulnerable citizens,” said Premier Doug Ford. “In order to better protect our seniors, people with various abilities, and the homeless population, along with our heroic frontline workers, our government is adopting emergency measures to provide flexibility in a variety of staffing arrangements to help stop the spread of this terrible virus.”

The Emergency Measures issued to further protect vulnerable people during the COVID-19 outbreak include:

  • Restricting retirement home employees from working in more than one retirement home, long-term care home or health care setting, with compliance required by April 22, 2020;
  • Providing Local Health Integration Networks with the ability to direct home care service provider organizations to safely reassign frontline staff to areas where they are most needed, including home and community care settings, long-term care homes, supportive housing, retirement homes and hospitals;
  • Providing municipalities and District Social Service Administration Boards with the flexibility to offer reassignments to certain staff to where there is local need during the outbreak, including child care, by-law enforcement, and public health services.

“We have heard the concerns of our municipal partners and are taking action to ensure they have the support they need to help their communities during the outbreak to address local needs,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

“Today our government is taking further action to protect both the residents and staff of retirement homes. The health and safety of retirement home residents is of the utmost importance,” said Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. “We must stop the spread of COVID-19 and we must do everything we can to protect retirement home residents and staff.”

In order to ensure there are enough paramedics and emergency medical attendants, ambulance services will have the flexibility to hire and assign college students who have not yet completed exams or graduated, to provide services appropriate to their competence level and scope of practice.

“We continue to take decisive action to contain the virus and support our heroic frontline workers during this challenging time,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Expanding the capacity of our health care workforce will support their incredible efforts to provide patients with the care they need.”

With the new staffing flexibility measures, municipalities or District Social Services Administration Boards will determine where there is a local need for staffing to deliver particular services. These employers have to comply with all provincial orders, as well as any guidance and safety standards prescribed by the Ontario government for COVID-19. They are also responsible for ensuring that any staff reassigned to the new duties have the required training and skills.

“During this critical time, our local delivery partners need the flexibility to be able to respond quickly and effectively to maintain essential frontline services,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “We will continue to face these challenges together as we work to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians.”

Quick Facts

  • As announced on April 15, Ontario is restricting long-term care staff from working in more than one long-term care home, retirement home or health care setting to help stop the spread of COVID-19 between facilities.
  • Local Health Integration Networks are responsible for arranging in-home or school health and social services, and for processing placements in long-term care facilities for individuals who can no longer remain in their own homes.

Additional Resources

  • Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19 or to take a self assessment.
  • The COVID-19 Action Plan: Long-Term Care Homes outlines the steps that the government is taking to protect residents and staff in long-term care homes.
  • Ontario has launched an online portal to match available health care workers with employers.

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