Hamilton hospitals and surrounding areas providing staff self-isolation pay
Health-care workers previously raised concerns about staff not being paid during self-isolation
Hospitals in Hamilton, Niagara, Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk counties are providing staff with temporary self-isolation pay according to the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario.
Doris Grinspun, CEO of the RNAO, confirmed the news on Wednesday afternoon, saying all hospitals in the old Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHIN system are participating.
- Brant Community Healthcare System.
- Haldimand War Memorial Hospital.
- Hamilton Health Sciences.
- Joseph Brant Hospital.
- Niagara Health.
- Norfolk General Hospital.
- St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton.
- West Haldimand General Hospital.
"I hope every single organization in Ontario follows suit because it's the right thing to do," Grinspun said.
"It was never right to put the burden of sick time or isolation time on the back of nurses that are putting themselves on the line to care, and to protect and to save lives for the people in Hamilton and Ontario."
This comes after CBC News confirmed Hamilton Health Sciences and Niagara Health were offering self-isolation pay.
HHS says it's being done to stop the spread of COVID-19 from "within our walls," according to a new staff memo sent out Wednesday morning.
The memo says the pay will apply retroactively to Aug. 10, 2020 and remain in effect until March 31, 2021, but is subject to change.
"This is a time-limited measure to help control the transmission of the virus within our walls, and for the protection of our staff, physicians, learners, patients and essential caregivers," it says.
Niagara Health said in a statement on Wednesday it is starting its isolation pay on Mar. 1. It will be applied until March 31, 2021, and retroactively to July 13, 2020. Like HHS, it is also subject to change.
The Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) emergency physician group previously wrote to Health Minister Christine Elliott about its "deep concern" that nurses weren't being paid during self-isolation.
There have also been concerns about members of the public going to work while symptomatic in order to avoid missing out on pay.
HHS said in a statement that Ontario Health issued temporary recommendations about hospital employee self-isolation pay that expired on June 30, 2020.
Dave Murphy, president of CUPE 7800, said he has no knowledge of any of his members going to work while sick. Still, he said it's a welcome change and came as a result of grievances from his members.
He said it's been hard on staff who were exposed to the virus, self-isolate and tested negative.
"Through no fault of their own ... they're really denied employment during that time when they could be working," Murphy said.
"The employer agreed. In the first wave, the government paid people ... and they shut it down in the mid-summer, and I don't know why that is. But the hospital saw the unfairness in that as well."
The HHS memo says the pay will apply to:
- Asymptomatic workers who have to isolate because of exposure to COVID-19.
- Workers scheduled and off work for COVID-19 symptoms or sickness but not eligible for sick pay.
The memo also says the eligibility for payment will be made on a case-by-case basis and won't be offered to anyone isolating due to travel. Those receiving retroactive payment will also be paid at a later date as HHS comes up with a plan to do so.
"This has been an extraordinary year, requiring us to take extraordinary actions to respond to COVID-19," said Michele Leroux, vice-president of human resources, in a media release.
"The virus continues to progress and challenge us. We are continually assessing and adjusting our response to support our workforce and provide safe patient care."