The Ontario government is working together with the province's education sector to voluntarily place available employees in staffing roles needed at congregate care settings during the COVID-19 outbreak.
This initiative is part of the government's ongoing efforts to redeploy broader public sector workers to areas where they are needed most, such as hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes, women's shelters, and homes serving those with developmental disabilities.
The details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.
"It is inspiring to see our school boards, trustees, and labour leaders come together and provide education workers with the opportunity to support our frontline workers and take care of our most vulnerable," said Premier Ford.
"Whether it's cooking or cleaning, or supporting mental wellness, this voluntary initiative will enable our education workers to go where they're needed most during this crisis and make a difference in people's lives and in their communities."
A framework was developed and endorsed by the Ontario government, trustees' associations, and almost all of the provincial union representatives that will allow the temporary voluntary redeployment of education sector employees, while ensuring they maintain their employment status with their school boards.
"Every day, Ontarians are making an incredible difference to help those most in need during the COVID-19 outbreak," said Lecce.
"We know that we must do more to care for our seniors ― that is why this agreement is so important. It will help pave the way for more staff to be deployed to help give dignity, support, and comfort to our most vulnerable citizens. I want to thank our education workers for stepping up to help and for standing out as true leaders within our communities."
Starting later this week, subject to a local agreement of the framework, eligible education sector staff who volunteer will be able to register through an online portal and to be matched with congregate settings that are facing staffing shortages.
Positions available may include custodial, maintenance, food preparation, children and youth service workers, social workers, and educational assistants. Training and appropriate safety equipment will be provided to redeployed staff.
Volunteers who are redeployed will be eligible for Ontario's temporary pandemic premium and emergency child care.
- Those who are directly involved in the continuity of learning are not eligible for redeployment, such as instructional and special education teachers. Most other employees are eligible, subject to the local school board’s operational needs.
- A temporary redeployment may be terminated at any time by the employee, current employer, or receiving employer.
- Education sector staff will be provided with more information by the school board following local agreements.
- The framework was endorsed in principle by all four trustees’ associations, and the following unions and councils of unions at the provincial/central level: Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Education Workers’ Alliance of Ontario (EWAO), Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO), Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) and Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA).