Work Alert #9

Sent by Dr. Ryan Giroux, PARO President, on June 25, 2020

As we near the end of this academic year and many of us prepare for the start of a new one, I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with another Work Alert.

By way of introduction, my name is Dr. Ryan Giroux and I have the honour of succeeding Dr. Anthea Lafreniere as President of PARO. In a few days, I will be a PGY4 in Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. I have the pleasure of working with a newly elected 2020/2021 PARO Board, who’s composition can be found here. We will be issuing a call for nominations for our 2020/2021 General Council the week of July 6th and will provide more information on how to run for GC at that time.

Vacation Pay

Many Ontario residents have been unable to take their vacation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Early in the pandemic, as soon as we learned that vacation was being denied or discouraged, we reached out to our Employer Hospitals with a detailed proposal on how decisions related to vacation should be managed. In the past few months we have been pressing for a decision and have made the Hospitals and Government aware that their options for managing unused vacation were becoming more limited as we approached the end of the year. After many difficult discussions, I am pleased to tell you that this week we have been able to get signed agreement from the Hospitals and from Government, that any resident with unused vacation as of June 30, 2020 will receive a one-time payout for any unused vacation entitlement from the current year.

We are now working with the payroll centres and the PostGrad Offices to determine exactly how and when this money will be paid. These discussions just started yesterday and are likely to take a few weeks. Please do not contact the PGME Offices or the Paymasters for details as they are not in a position to provide you with any further information until all of the details have been worked out. We anticipate that payments will be made before the end of August. Any resident who is finishing training on June 30th 2020 who has unused vacation needs to make sure that you keep your banking information current and in place with the Paymaster so that they can facilitate payment. If you have unused vacation, you should confirm this with your Program Administrative Assistant or your Program Director so that they have a record.

Many thanks to the 2019/2020 Board, our senior staff and legal counsel who worked so hard to ensure that residents are compensated for vacation that they were not able to take.

Lieu Days

We were also able to get the Hospitals and Government to agree that for any lieu day earned during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, that the 90 day period under Article 13.3 of our Collective Agreement would be extended for an additional 30 days, subject to the approval of your Program Director.

Extended Health Benefits

We are aware that many of you have been unable to make use of your extended health care benefits during the pandemic. We tried very hard to find a way to have these benefits carried over to the new academic year. Unfortunately, we have not been able to find a solution that the Hospitals could implement. The extended health benefits are not structured in a way that they can be tracked and carried over to a new year.

2020/2021 PARO Dues

At the June 5th meeting, your General Council approved the recommendation of the Board to reduce the PARO dues rate. As a result, we have communicated with all of the payroll centres and have instructed them to reduce the dues rate, effective July 1, 2020 to 1.25%. We work hard to ensure that we provide an excellent level of service to our members at the lowest possible dues rate, thereby making it possible for you to keep more money in your pocket.

Forgotten on the Front Lines

In Dr. Lafreniere’s last work alert message to you, she discussed PARO’s plans to initiate a campaign to bring attention to the fact that many health care employees have been forgotten by the Ontario Government with respect to pandemic pay. I want to thank those of you who took the time to click on the link that we provided to tell us your personal stories of how the pandemic has affected you, your family and your patients. We had planned to initiate a major campaign but on the eve of our launch, the attention of the world turned to the myriad of issues related to systemic racism. In discussion with some of the other groups representing other forgotten health care workers, we determined that putting the campaign on hold was the right thing to do. In the subsequent days, the focus of the public also began to shift to a phased re-opening of the province. Many of us expect that Ontario will be hit by a second wave this fall and, should that happen, we are well poised to initiate our campaign to ensure that residents are acknowledged and appreciated for the hard work that we do. Over the coming weeks we will be using some of the content that many of you provided on our Instagram account. If you haven’t checked it out, go to @myparosocial on Instagram and follow us for useful information on thriving in residency.

Our Newest Members

On July 1, over 1100 new doctors will be starting their residency in Ontario with more to join their ranks before October. Though much of the information in this work alert does not pertain to them, I have included these new members on the distribution list. I want to welcome all of you to residency and let you know that you invest in PARO through your dues and in turn, PARO invests in ensuring we do all that we can to make sure you have an optimal work and training experience. We know that many of you have experienced the nightmare of the MCCQEI and that many of you are still waiting to write your exam. We are committed to work with our national partner, Resident Doctors of Canada (RDoC) and the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS), to make sure that your needs with respect to the MCC Exams are met.

For those of you who are going to be a PGY2 or higher on July 1, I would ask you to remember what it was like to start your residency. Many people are filled with both excitement and nervousness. The past few months have been exceptional for many of us, but we must appreciate that many of our new PGY1s have not been on the wards or engaged in any clinical medicine since the beginning of March. Please keep that in mind as you welcome your new colleagues to their residency and work to help them adapt to an everchanging healthcare system.

Best Wishes

Finally, I would like to conclude this message by acknowledging our graduating residents. You have had to deal with the challenges of a pandemic in your final year of training, including the postponement and rescheduling of your exams and the uncertainty of licensure or employment. Most importantly, you stepped up as the Front Line and continued to provide the excellent care that patients in Ontario needed amidst so much uncertainty. For this, we thank you. As well, those of us who have benefited by the wisdom that you have imparted as our senior colleagues, we want to wish you the very best in your career and to thank you for being our mentors and teachers and by keeping all of us inspired by your love of medicine.

To all of you who are remaining residents and transitioning to a new academic year, best wishes for 2020/2021!

All the best,

Dr. Ryan Giroux, MD

PARO President

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