COVID-19 NEW INFORMATION

In the past weeks we are still seeing COVID numbers rise however there is a lot of activity on all fronts in the battle against the rising numbers.

 

Here is a concise list of 'New' items, they will be added to other areas of the Ontario Fire Fighters web page as well.

APRIL 30 - NEW

The OPFFA reacts to Pandemic Pay for certain front line health care workers.

  • We invite you to read the letter from OPFFA President Rob Hyndman to OPFFA Members.
  • Ontario's Fire Fighters are committed to our service to the public at all times and especially during this time
  • Please CLICK HERE TO READ THE LETTER

APRIL 17 

Order made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to Municipalities

  • Yesterday, municipalities were advised of powers being delegated under the EMCP Act. CLICK TO SEE THE ANNOUNCEMENT
  • Today we received a copy of the order enabling municipalities to re-deploy staff and override collective agreements in doing so
    • In order to execute this order the municipality would have to declare a state of emergency (which most have already done)
  • The order however, excludes Fire Fighters as defined in the FPPA, Police and Paramedics  CLICK TO READ THE ORDER
    • Again, some fire chiefs and departments will state they have the authority to over-ride your CBA, they do not, and it is clear in this order that they do not.
    • We still however, recommend that local executive boards work collaboratively with management on resolving items where possible during and only for the time frame of the pandemic.  Consult with an OPFFA rep if you have concerns.
    • We will list any additional detail we receive on this item as we receive it.

APRIL 15 - Ontario Extends the Declaration of Emergency

  • April 14, the government extended the declaration and all orders made under the declaration to May 12.
  • To view this news release please CLICK HERE TO SEE THE NEWS RELEASE

APRIL 15 - Just Added - OBC & OFC Exemptions during COVID-19

  • In March, the government made orders that permit the construction of Temporary Health Facilities
  • Simply put, in re-purposing facilities or erecting temporary facilities for COVID-19, certain building and fire code requirements do not have be met
  • See the Ontario Fire Marshall's Communique - CLICK HERE

 

NEW INFORMATION - Daycare for Emergency Responders.  Government indicated that child care facilities may open to provide care for children of first responders (including fire fighters).  The details are now released.

  • The initial statement from government is here SEE STATEMENT
  • APRIL 15 - Child Care for Health Care and Frontline staff

 

APRIL 10 - Priority COVID-19 Testing for OPFFA members

  • Government has announced that health care workers and first responders will receive priority testing for COVID-19
    Earlier, we realize that the availability of testing kits/equipment was scarce and this situation is improving
    Currently there is no formal process for priority testing however some departments have made arrangements with local health units.  Inquiring within your jurisdiction is recommended as a first step.  We will post directions as they become available.
    For a listing of regional health units CLICK HERE

  • April 9, the government made the following formal announcement of priority testing.  CLICK HERE FOR THE GUIDANCE UPDATE. Generally here are the highlights
    • Priority testing is for SYMPTOMATIC first responsers
    • It is not recommended for asymptomatic responders
    • Symptoms may be typical (common) or atypical 
    • The memo lists the typical symptoms and atypical symptoms of COVID-19
    • When additional testing sites come on board, and if a location list is available we will post it
    • Although under this memo, people being tested have symptoms and should already be self isolating and self monitoring, members should consult their union or management as each employer may have different guidelines regarding work attendance or isolation during testing periods.

 

Many fire services asking members to stop secondary employment in other health or emergency response sectors.  The OPFFA supports this.

  • Expanding the circle of potential exposure due to secondary high-risk employment counter-acts the goal of your primary job in the fire service to keep you fit for duty.
  • There have been reports of individuals that are specifically in self isolation for 14 days responding to calls in other jurisdictions, risking both the individuals in those communities and their employment.

Many fire services, in consultation with their local union leadership, are working on plans to accommodate members if self isolation is needed due to incidents arising from the workplace.

  • These preparations can include arrangements with hotels or rental units should the need arise
  • Discussion on how to isolate fire crews or personnel (including on-call, part-time who may respond in composite departments)
  • Each individual should consider their own plan should the need arise.  Your own solution, if appropriate, may be the best should then need arise.

The IAFF recommends usage of surgical masks in our workplaces.

  • Based on statements from The Center for Disease Control, the IAFF has recommended the use of masks while in your station or workplace.  SEE THE POSTING
  • By controlling the air borne particulates leaving a person's body, there is reduced risk.  These masks are NOT PPE, however when used as a whole the risk of spreading the virus from non symptomatic individuals is reduced.
  • We are aware of some Ontario departments moving to put policies in place regarding masks in the workplace.

 

This is not the time to propose altering of Tiered Response Agreements or reduction of services provided to the public.

  • Our locals should maintain current response models.  Most fire services are still responding to serious medical calls and still making a difference.
  • Our response and staffing enables scene management and treatment of family members (not just the victim) all of which has a very positive impact and outcome.
  • Most fire services that are experiencing a temporary drop in call volumes know the drop is on fire/accident/rescue/spills/etc. type calls only because people are locked in their homes.  Upon return to normal life these calls will return. Cutting any service(s) at this time is ill advised.

 

Provincial Government Expands COVID-19 Patient Information Availability to Police, Fire and Paramedics

  • In an Order made April 6, the government will, for the duration of the order, allow the agencies to ask and share information on a patient's status with respect to COVID-19.
  • Although the mechanism is not fully operational, a portal to access the information is being established with the ability for municipalities to access and share information from it.
  • If and when we are provided details, we will share them.
  • Currently however, your designated officers should now have less barriers to get information on patients.

While firefighters in this province have been on the front lines of this pandemic, the Ontario Association of Fire Chief’s started a lobby attempting to convince our government that it was necessary to use this crisis to implement orders to circumvent our collective agreements.

  • Some departments and Fire Chiefs wanted to use this crisis as a platform to introduce unilateral changes to all aspects of our collective agreements. They are exerting this pressure stating that the government will give them latitude to walk over your hard earned rights.  We encourage good discussion if any of these items arise.
  • During this pandemic, the government has been making moves to address PPE shortages, ensure priority testing for those in the front lines and provide information to ensure we can continue to serve our communities. It is the position of the OPFFA that there is no need for orders, but some local administrators still want to threaten unnecessary change.

Your OPFFA will continue to urge locals to work cooperatively on all aspects but no one should allow themselves to feel threatened. If a local leadership has specific concerns, they can contact the OPFFA for more information.

  • Here are some points to be aware of with respect to the Emergency Measures and Civil Protection Act:
    • During a declared state of emergency, the EMCPA gives specific, short-term powers to government. These powers are exercised through Orders made by the Premier.
    • Orders are temporary in nature, (14 and 28 days) and if they are extended, they can only be extended for those short periods again.
    • The order made regarding health care providers and workers does permit the temporary overriding of collective agreements, but the order is specific, and the actions must support the objective; “to respond to, prevent and alleviate the outbreak of COVID-19 to the patient.”
  • Through the work of your OPFFA we are happy to report that currently there is no immediate need or appetite by the provincial government to bring down orders for Ontario’s fire services.
  • To view the Health Provider order CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE ORDER