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Applications filed to OLRB Due to Failed Safety Protections for Healthcare Workers

April 21, 2020 Joyce Lusunike

RICHMOND HILL, ON, April 21, 2020 – SEIU Healthcare, the union that represents over 60,000 frontline healthcare workers in Ontario, has filed urgent applications with the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) to protect workers who have been put at unnecessary risk because the provincial government refuses to take action to protect healthcare workers at three long-term care facilities.

SEIU Healthcare’s urgent applications claim that Altamont Care Community owned by Sienna Senior Living, a publicly-traded company, as well as Anson Place and Eatonville Care Centre, private, for-profit nursing homes owned by Ryyka Care Centres, have failed to:

  1. provide proper equipment, materials and protective devices in accordance with OHSA and regulations.
  2. provide information, instruction and supervision to the Union’s members to protect the health or safety of the workers and residents.
  3. take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.

SEIU Healthcare has brought these emergency applications under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Statutory Powers Procedure Act asking the Labour Board to address the serious deficiencies in the responses of these corporate employers to this crisis, to protect the health and safety of the union’s frontline healthcare workers, and to protect the safety of the residents and their families.

SEIU Healthcare is seeking immediate emergency measures on behalf of its members, including but not limited to:

  1. An Order directing the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to immediately place the Employers under its control until such time as the Board is satisfied that the employees and residents are being sufficiently protected.
  2. An Order directing the Employers to immediately provide sufficient PPE to employees, including (but not limited to) medical gowns, gloves, N95 or surgical masks, and face shields, and to implement a universal masking policy and to require staff screening visitors to wear gowns, gloves, face shield and any other appropriate PPE.
  3. An Order directing the Employers to ensure the Employer is properly staffed.
  4. An Order directing the Employers to immediately ensure all employees are trained on infection control and proper PPE use and other practices and procedures to minimize the spread of Covid-19.
  5. An Order that the Employers are required to be transparent with the Union and the public about the true situation at their homes.
  6. An Order that the Employer properly enforce social distancing amongst the residents.

As of Tuesday, April 21, over sixty-eight (68) residents have died at these three homes, one staff member has tragically passed away, and there remain hundreds of resident and staff infections. It is clear that the responses of these companies are failing the residents and workers, so the Labour’s Board immediate intervention is necessary to save lives.

STATEMENT FROM SEIU HEALTHCARE PRESIDENT, SHARLEEN STEWART:

We reminded every healthcare operator in Ontario weeks ago of their obligations as employers to keep workers safe. Now, because the government is not using their powers under the Long-Term Care Homes Act to get control of the COVID-19 crisis, our union is forced to call on the Labour Board to enforce health and safety laws already on the books.

We are witnessing what happens when hollow words are met with failed action. That is why we are seeking an emergency hearing before the Board for immediate relief to our frontline members.

We will not stop until every worker is protected and every senior receives the care they deserve.


SEIU Healthcare represents more than 60,000 healthcare and community service workers across Ontario. The union’s members work in hospitals, homecare, nursing and retirement homes, and community services throughout the province. www.seiuhealthcare.ca

For media inquiries, contact: Corey Johnson, SEIU Healthcare, Head of Strategic, Communication, 416-529-8909, c.johnson@seiuhealthcare.ca

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