Ontario government extends deadline for COVID-19 applications to return to work

TORONTO – With firefighters and emergency call handlers reporting COVID-19 cases, a step to recognize trans service members still in the service who might not have a birth certificate, the Ontario government on Saturday announced it had set a Jan. 20 date for city employees to return to work.

The Ontario Provincial Police has informed city of Toronto workers that they will also return to work that day, meaning police and fire crews as well as other city workers have already returned to their desks.

However, 300 employees of the Department of Community Safety remain sequestered, their return to work still in question.

Local 44 represents nearly 7,000 post-secondary workers in Ontario, including firefighters, police officers, nurses and social workers, and post-secondary institutions say a majority of those employees are eligible to apply for a COVID-19 medical certificate.

In February, some 2,400 university and college employees were told by the government to vacate their offices, citing a lack of budgetary resources to provide housing for affected employees and their families. A spokesperson for Community Safety said in a statement released on Saturday that the municipality would continue to provide housing support to the affected workers, some of whom have also been asked to return to the office.

On Monday, the province sent an email message to the affected local 44 employees asking for their data on COVID-19 applications so they can further prepare for their eventual return to work.

“To assist in moving ahead with this work, the City of Toronto, Community Safety and Correctional Services Canada are sharing documents related to COVID-19 applications and statistics to help make their workspaces more navigable for employees and students facing the challenges of transitioning into the community,” the message states.

The statement also noted that a survey launched last month that answers employees’ questions about COVID-19 is in the final stages of its submission process.

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