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OPSEU President calls on Renfrew community living management to obey the government


Toronto – OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is demanding that management at Community Living Renfrew County South follow provincial government direction and continue to pay workers who are in isolation due to COVID-19.

Earlier this week, Thomas called on Children, Community and Social Services Minister Todd Smith to intervene in the layoffs of workers who are quarantined, self-isolating, or on leave because of childcare. As a result of Thomas’s action, the Ministry contacted the Employer but nothing has changed.

“I commend the Minister for understanding the severity of this Employer’s actions and stepping in,” said Thomas. “It’s time to reverse this decision, this is no time to be stubborn.”

In March, the Ontario government announced $300 million in support for the health care sector, which includes funding to backfill staff at group homes who need to quarantine or self-isolate. The Employer claims this assistance cannot be used for backfilling and has taken no steps to reverse the layoffs.

Thomas points out that Executive Director Jennifer Creeden’s salary is slightly south of the Sunshine List of top public sector salaries in Ontario. 

“She’s making good money, it’s sad that she doesn’t realize how devastating it is for these workers to lose their jobs at a time like this,” said Thomas.

Community Living Renfrew County South management also continues to have employees working in multiple group homes, even though public health officials have recommended workers stick to one work site only.

“The Employer is fully-funded to handle this situation and any backfills that need to occur,” said Thomas. “Treating their workers like this is not only unnecessary, it’s irresponsible in the face of this pandemic.”

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