The Ontario government is working together with the province’s education sector to voluntarily place available employees in staffing roles needed at congregate care settings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the province, this initiative is part of their ongoing response to redeploy broader public sector workers to areas where they are most needed, like hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes, women’s shelters, and homes serving those with developmental disabilities.
“It is inspiring to see our school boards, trustees, and labour leaders come together and provide education workers with the opportunity to support our frontline workers and take care of our most vulnerable,” Premier Doug Ford said.
“Whether it’s cooking or cleaning, or supporting mental wellness, this voluntary initiative will enable our education workers to go where they’re needed most during this crisis and make a difference in people’s lives and in their communities.”
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The framework was developed and endorsed by the Province of Ontario, trustees’ associations, and almost all of the provincial union representatives that will allow the temporary voluntary redeployment of education sector employees, while ensuring they maintain their employment status with their school boards.
Some of the education workers include custodians, administration staff, cleaning staff, and teaching assistants.
“Every day, Ontarians are making an incredible difference to help those most in need during the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education.
“We know that we must do more to care for our seniors — that is why this agreement is so important. It will help pave the way for more staff to be deployed to help give dignity, support, and comfort to our most vulnerable citizens. I want to thank our education workers for stepping up to help and for standing out as true leaders within our communities.”
Starting later this week, eligible education sector staff who volunteer will be able to register through an online portal and to be matched with congregate settings that are facing staffing shortages.
Positions available may include custodial, maintenance, food preparation, children and youth service workers, social workers, and educational assistants.
Training and safety equipment will be provided to redeployed staff and volunteers who are redeployed will be eligible for Ontario’s temporary pandemic premium and emergency child care, the province said.
On Wednesday morning, Ontario’s government adopted an emergency order that will allow it to appoint a manager to oversee the response to coronavirus at long-term care homes struggling to contain an outbreak.
According to the province, the order would support the use of “rapid, immediate and effective management alternatives” to protect residents and staff within a home.
The manager could be any person, including a corporation or a hospital.