May 8, 2020
The Government of Ontario announced new COVID-19 measures that will allow retail workplaces to re-open across the province. The government’s plans are outlined in its framework document released on April 27.
Over the coming weeks, as more workplaces reopen across the province, employers have the added responsibility to implement the many health and safety requirements set out in the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development’s COVID-19 workplace guidelines. Reopening workplaces will also mean added challenges and potentially unfamiliar practices for workers to protect their personal health and safety on the job and at home.
Our union is hard at work to uphold our members’ rights and health and safety throughout this difficult time. In many workplaces, our leadership has already met with and assisted in the development of plans and procedures to accommodate the government’s new workplace guidelines.
It is essential that all employer plans for reopening workplaces be done in consultation with Joint Health and Safety Committee and union leadership. We have also prepared a helpful resource for those workplaces with members returning to work that outlines best practices and health and safety concerns here.
We urge all of you to remain vigilant during this critical moment in our province’s history. All workers continue to have the same workplace rights we’ve always had, including the right to know about hazards, to participate in the development of workplace safety measures and the right to refuse unsafe work.
The threat to human health that COVID-19 poses has also meant additional accommodations are necessary to ensure workers’ health and safety. That means members may need additional resources and services such as transportation, child care, and mental health. We must all work together to identify those needs and ensure they are properly met by the employer.
Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our members. Please ensure that you have reviewed the Returning to work from COVID-19 closure document and that any questions or concerns are forwarded to the appropriate member of the leadership team and staff.
Assistant to the National President