Community Connections – Spring 2022
For OPSEU/SEFPO members working in Sector 17 Community Health Care Professionals
COVID-19 and return to work hybrid models
Following the lifting of public health measures we are seeing changes in workplaces following the pandemic. Some workplaces are adopting a hybrid model, no longer requiring staff to be in the office full-time in jobs where the work can be done from home.
In hybrid models staff rotate their time in office and at home, with fewer workers in the office at any one time than at pre-COVID-19 levels. Staff may have shared work stations and may be responsible for cleaning their work station before and after use. There are pros and cons for both employers and workers such as cost savings, flexibility, and a reduction in employee sick time.
It is important to note that employers have a duty to provide reasonable accommodation under applicable human rights legislation when it continues to apply to employees working from home. Some employers have supplied computer monitors to be attached to laptops so that the workers are not working solely off of small screens, but not all employers will supply larger screens. Also, some employers may provide laptop and monitor stands to raise the devices to the employees’ eye level.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario (OHSA) does not apply to work performed in a private residence. Under the Act, employees can request office furniture, specific devices, or other tools to complete their duties from home but employers may not meet all requests.
For these reasons it is critical that employers in these circumstances have pro-active policies in place to support work from home. If your employer has not created policies to support work from home arrangements, locals can raise these issues at Labour Management meetings to demand that such policies be put into place to protect workers performing remote work.
Home and Community care bleeding workers to higher paid health care settings
If Ontario had a well-funded home and community care system, 8,000 people could have been prevented from entering the long-term care system during the pandemic (Canadian Institute for Health Information, 2021). If home and community care was adequately funded, greater numbers of frail seniors and disabled people would be in their homes rather than in long-term care and hospital settings.
It’s a no brainer. Individuals will always prefer to remain in their homes with supports and are much safer at home as the pandemic demonstrated. It costs $103 a day to provide home care and community services to a frail senior or disabled person in their home, compared to $201 a day for long-term care or $730 a day for hospital care. Keeping 8,000 individuals in their homes would have lowered their risk of exposure to COVID-19, as well as generated health system savings of about $238 million.
Since the pandemic began, Ontario’s home care system has lost 3,000 nurses, hundreds of skilled therapists and thousands more personal support workers.
On April 25, just before the election, the government announced an investment of $1 billion over three years, but none of the new money was set aside to raise wages for all classifications to comparable levels of others performing the same work in hospitals and long term care.
The question is, given the government’s track record, can we afford to trust Doug Ford?
June 2 is Election Day, make sure your voice is heard!
On June 2 we will be voting in a provincial election. This is our opportunity to elect a government that is most in line with our values and principles. Even better, it’s an opportunity to get involved and volunteer for an electoral candidate. If every OPSEU/SEFPO member voted, we could have a significant impact on determining which party forms government!
Check out OPSEU/SEFPO’s provincial election platform: www.buildon2022.org
- Read the six pillars of the OPSEU/SEFPO platform:
- Repeal anti-worker laws (Bill 124/Bill 195/Bill 106)
- Build the public sector
- Reject privatization
- Improve health and safety
- Fix long-term care
- Provide clean water for Indigenous communities
- Find your riding and candidates, and make a plan to vote.
- Vote for a worker-friendly government, by voting NDP!
Time to renew and rebuild connections in Locals and Units
Strengthening union participation can be challenging, especially after the isolation and remote work that the pandemic ushered in. We encourage members and the local leadership to share ideas and try something new.
- Organize a social event. Relationships are the glue to building a sense of community and shared purpose. When people know and trust each other, the greater the likelihood of participation and volunteerism.
- Communicate regularly. Regular union updates by email or social media remind members that the union is always there to provide the latest information, ask for feedback, celebrate wins with the employer and educate members on their rights and responsibilities.
- Make it personal. Use phone trees and one-on-one outreach to ensure you have maximum participation for important meetings. Ensure you orient and welcome new members in person. Encourage volunteering beyond steward functions, everyone has a role to play.
- Be a presence in your community. Many members are active in social justice, community causes. Using local union resources or people power to support local causes builds the profile of your local and builds community solidarity.
Meet your new Divisional Executive Members
Newsletter / Communications
Contact information can be found on the OPSEU/SEFPO website: https://opseu.org/sector/community-health-care-professionals/