Dear Mr. Gordon,
Yesterday afternoon, I received notification that a temporary order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act had been issued for work deployment measures for service agencies providing violence against women residential services and crisis line services.
We appreciate the official orders were delivered to employers with instructions to “engage in good faith” with bargaining agents such as ourselves but also express deep frustration that we were not consulted before the orders were issued.
In lieu of that consultation, I offer the following recommendations:
- Agencies should only enact these directives in response to a demonstrated need. These orders should not lead to an “open season” on the terms and conditions of our collective agreements;
- Worker responsibilities for child care and eldercare requirements must be considered when making changes to hours of work;
- Safety issues regarding the use of volunteers to perform work in shelters must be considered. In many long-term care homes, volunteers have not been allowed as they pose a risk to the spread of the virus. This is an issue that will need to be continuously monitored;
- Employers must ensure current staff are given the first opportunity to fill work hours before any additional full-time, part-time or temporary staff or volunteers are deployed.
- The Ministry should consider rules outlining the number of facilities a staff member can work in and work to increase the number of hours a staff member can access in an individual shelter as opposed to the current situation where workers have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.
In addition to the above, it is imperative that workers in violence against women residential services, are provided the full array of personal protective equipment required to keep themselves safe and stop the spread of coronavirus. It was only recently that shelter workers were finally listed as a priority for PPE but the mechanics of actually gaining access and delivery have been difficult.
I would be pleased to discuss this issue with you further at your convenience.
UNIFOR ONTARIO REGIONAL DIRECTOR