Updated April 8th, 2020
The following guidelines are consistent with the laws in Ontario. However, we do not want our members to be putting themselves at risk of infection. For this reason, our CEO and PARO President are seeking assurance from CAHO, your employer, that if a Hospital is unable to provide appropriate PPE and a resident feels that it is unsafe to provide care, even where the refusal to provide care endangers the life, health or safety of another person, that the resident will not be subject to any disciplinary measures. We are seeking similar assurance from the CPSO and are seeking confirmation from CMPA that you will be represented should any civil action result.
What do I need to know about PPE?
- You must be given training on how to use PPE.
- You must be provided with, and use required PPE.
- You must follow the Hospital’s directives on the appropriate use of PPE including appropriate donning/doffing
- You have the right to refuse work if you aren’t provided required PPE, provided that refusing work does not directly endanger the life, health, or safety of another person.*
- You must do your part to ensure that you don’t contribute to diminishing supplies.
- If you are aware of a risk of a shortage of PPE, then you should raise the concern with your supervising staff, program director, occupational health or the Hospital Administrator on call. We understand that in many hospitals, it is the ‘supervisor or unit manager/leader’ who is responsible for monitoring and securing PPE supply.
Your safety is of paramount importance to PARO, and that includes the provision and use of Personal Protective Equipment.
Most employees can refuse to do unsafe work without the risk of discipline, if the employee has a reasonable basis to believe the work to be unsafe – this is enshrined in Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.
However, employees who work in hospitals, like firefighters, police and some others, have a more limited right to refuse unsafe work. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employees who work in hospitals are not allowed to refuse unsafe work if the danger is inherent in the work or the refusal directly endangers the life, health or safety of another person. If, for example, a patient requires urgent care or the patient’s life is in jeopardy and you refuse to work, even if you think it is unsafe, then you are at risk of discipline and personal liability.
As mentioned above, PARO is actively pushing for decisions by our employer, the CPSO and CMPA that will allow us to provide different guidance. For now, it is our obligation to make sure you are aware of your legal requirements. When we have new information, it will be communicated through email.
In situations where the hospital does not provide you with appropriate PPE and there is no risk to a patient’s life or need for urgent care, it is PARO’s position that you can refuse work that you reasonably believe to be unsafe.
There is a continuum of urgency to the provision of care and you will need to use your professional judgement to navigate each situation to ensure that the patient’s life is not in jeopardy and that the need for care is not urgent.
In any refusal to work, you must immediately notify your supervisor of the refusal.
It remains PARO’s position that you must be trained and provided with appropriate PPE. However, it is also important that you also be aware of your obligations and the limitations of the right to refuse unsafe work under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.