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OPSEU calls on government to intervene in layoffs at Renfrew community living agency

Smokey at Women's Conference in 2019

TORONTO – OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is calling for Community and Social Services Minister Todd Smith to intervene in the layoff of workers in Renfrew who are in isolation due to COVID-19.

Six members of OPSEU who work at Community Living Renfrew County South were required last week to quarantine or self-isolate.  They have been issued Record of Employment papers by their employer and told to apply for Employment Insurance.

The Employer has provided no compensation to the workers and Thomas points out this flies in the face of job-protected leave changes passed in the legislature earlier this month.

“Through no fault of their own, and despite the fact this agency is fully funded, these workers have been set adrift with no immediate support,” said Thomas.  “The minister must step in and stop this nonsense.”

“Employers have a responsibility to support their employees during this global pandemic.”

Community Living Renfrew County South is funded by the government and it offers supports and services for adults and youth with developmental disabilities.

OPSEU Local 472 members at Community Living Renfrew South have also been instructed to work at several different group homes in Renfrew and Arnprior to meet the demand for staff at these facilities. This violates ministry guidelines and puts both the staff and residents at increased risk for community spread of COVID-19.

“These workers are following government-issued directives for their own safety and for the safety of the residents and Ontarians,” said Thomas.

“This employer’s actions are not only illegal – they’re dead wrong and irresponsible.  We won’t let them get away with it.”

For more information Warren (Smokey) Thomas 613-329-1931