COVID-19: Good News for Front-line Workers and Employers in Congregated Care Settings

April 25, 2020

It’s a beautiful day for workers and employers in “congregated care” settings, at least when it comes to supports from the Ontario Government .

In a multi-pronged effort to support front-line workers supporting Ontario’s most vulnerable, the Ontario government announced, among other things new pandemic pay premiums for workers, a new single-employer rule to protect workers and people supported in congregated care settings, and a new emergency order extending requirements and authorizations for measures to alleviate, respond to and prevent the outbreak of Covid-19 in certain congregated care settings, including intervenor services.

1.  Pandemic Premium:  

How much?

$4.00 per hour over regular rates, plus $250 per month for workers working more than 100 hour per month.


Starting April 24, 2020 for 16 weeks, ending August 13, 2020.

For which workers? 

The pandemic pay is designed to support employees on the frontlines of COVID-19 and does not apply to management.

In what sectors?  

A complete list of the eligible workplaces and workers is available here.  Eligible workplaces include:

    • Health care and long-term care facilities (including acute hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes, home and community care) and their workers (PSWs, RNs, RPNs, attendant care workers, Developmental Services Workres, Mental Health and Addictions workers, auxillary staff (porters, custodians, housekeeping, laundry and other key workers));
    • Social Services workplaces (homes for people with developmental disabilities; intervenor residential sites; certain shelters; indigenous healing facilities; youth justice, licensed children’s, and directly operated residential facilities; supportive housing; respite/drop-in centres; hotels used for self-isolation and shelter overflow) and their workers (including DSWs, clinical staff, housekeeping, security, administration, maintenance, food services, and nursing staff; and
    • Corrections facilities.

No details have yet been released as to how these payments will be rolled out and when  – critical questions for employers facing massive unexpected expenses in the face of COVID-19.  Further details will be shared here as soon as they are available.  See the full text of the announcement here.


2.  Single Employer Emergency Order 

The government also announced a single-employer emergency order for developmental services, intervenor services and other congregated care settings.   See the full text of the order here.

What are the restrictions?

Similarly to the single-employer emergency orders issued for long-term care and retirement homes a few weeks ago, this order will restrict employees working in congregated care settings from working for more than one agency – including temporary help workers – in the same sector.  We continue to have concern that this order, like to order for LTC and retirement homes, continues to ignore the intersectoral sharing of workers – thereby potentially allowing employees to continue to work in LTC one day, and to work in a DS setting the next.

For how long? 

The limitations on work for more than one employer starts at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday April 30, 2020 and runs until the end of the declared emergency (at present, May 12, 2020).

What are the obligations on employers? 

Employers face a number of restrictions and obligations:

    1. Employers must not terminate a staff member who is subject to this order as a result of the person following the order (e.g. employees who only work at one agency during the crisis cannot be fired from the other).
    2. Beginning on April 30th, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., the employer must ensure its staff working in residences do not also work as staff in residence operated by different congregate care setting service agencies in the same sector.
    3. Employers must post this order in a conspicuous and easily accessible place in each of their residences immediately.
    4. If there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in a residence operated by the employer, the employer must report to the local medical officer of health and ensure any staff members who are found to have been exposed to the virus at the residence are only scheduled to work at that residence until the outbreak is over. Determinations on who has been exposed are to be made in accordance with the advice, recommendations, and instructions of public health officials.
    5. All employers must follow any guidance, advice, or recommendations put out by the Ministry of Health or the Chief medical Officer of Health respecting COVID-19 that applies to congregate care setting service agencies this order applies to. This effectively makes such guidance, advice, or recommendations binding.

What are the obligations on employees? 

Employees who perform work in a congregate care setting residence and also performs work in another congregate care setting service agency’s residence in the same sector must notify each agency that this order applies to them as soon as reasonably possible and in any event no later than 9:00 a.m. on April 27, 2020.  Employees have to comply with the limits on working for other congregate care setting service agency’s residences in the same sector, even if it would not comply with a collective agreement.

What the key timelines?

    • Immediately:
      • Post order in a conspicuous and easily accessible part of each of its residences.
      • Comply with all guidance, advice, or recommendations from the Ministry of Health or the Chief Medical Officer of Health respecting COVID-19 applying to congregate care setting service agencies.
    • April 27, 9:00 a.m. – Employees who work in residences covered by this order must notify each such employer this order applies to that this order applies to that employee.
    • April 30, 12:01 a.m. and Onwards – Employees and employers must ensure that residence employees only work for one congregate care setting service agency’s residence for the duration of the emergency (despite any collective agreement to the contrary). Again, remote work is allowed.
    • During an Outbreak – Report to local public health and require exposed staff to only work at the affected residence for the duration of the outbreak.
    • May 12, 2020 – The end of the emergency and the order, unless it is further extended.

If you are unsure of your obligations under this order be sure to reach out to your regular PooranLaw lawyer or any member of our team for assistance.

3.  Emergency Order for Staffing and Deployment

Until recently, Emergency Orders allowing flexibility for staffing and deployment of workers unduly excluded a number of sectors supporting vulnerable people.  We are pleased to see that on Friday afternoon, the government released a new Emergency Order extending the requirement and authorization for employers in congregated care settings, including residential intervenor services providers, to take any reasonable measure to alleviate, prevent and respond to the outbreak of Covid-19.

This order authorizes employers to adopt necessary measures, even where those measures would otherwise violate applicable collective agreements, legislative restrictions, policies, directives and arrangements.  For a full discussion on what such orders mean for employers see our blog post on the Emergency Order for Developmental Services.

See the announcement here.

PooranLaw will continue to monitor these developments and will provide further details as they becomes available.   Be sure to check back here often for the latest updates.

Note: This article provides general information only and does not constitute, and should not be relied upon as, legal advice or opinion. PooranLaw Professional Corporation holds the copyright to this article and the article and its contents may not be copied or reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, without the express permission of PooranLaw Professional Corporation.