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Letter from OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas to Minister Smith re: layoffs at Renfrew community living agency

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas sent the following letter on March 31 to Social Service Minister Todd Smith calling for an intervention in the layoffs taking place at Community Living Renfrew County South.

The Honourable Todd Smith,
Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
438 University Ave., 7th Floor
Toronto, ON M5G 2K8

Dear Minister:

I want to bring to your attention the irresponsible treatment of workers that is taking place at Community Living Renfrew County South during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Executive Director at Community Living Renfrew South, Jennifer Creeden, has laid off six workers who were required to quarantine or self-isolate. These workers were issued Record of Employment papers, were not provided with any compensation and were told to apply for Employment Insurance. This action directly violates the job-protected leave changes passed in the legislature earlier this month.

In addition to this, staff are being instructed to work in several different group home locations to cover staff shortages at these facilities. These measures violate ministry guidelines and puts both the staff and residents at an increased risk for community spread of COVID-19.

Minister, to prevent the situation from getting worse, I ask that you immediately and personally intervene with management at Community Living Renfrew County South. Employers have a responsibility to support their employees during this global pandemic. The management at this facility is taking illegal, irresponsible actions and putting the health and safety of Ontarians at risk.

I await your timely response.


Warren (Smokey) Thomas
Ontario Public Service Employees Union

cc:         The Honourable Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario