COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions and Resources

Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions we have received from members in relation to the public health emergency related to COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a rapidly developing public health emergency and our response will in large part be dictated by the advice of public health officials. We are asking our members to pay attention to and follow public health advice in their own city and province as the situation rapidly evolves.

Before calling your Business Agent, please review this list of frequently asked questions.

This post was last updated at 4:25 pm EST 2020-04-02.  It will be edited frequently as the situation develops.

Your Rights at Work

Employers are required to take every precaution that is reasonable in the circumstances to protect the health and safety of workers. Determining what is reasonable in the circumstances is a highly fact specific analysis and may depend on factors such as the risk of infection in the type of workplace and the vulnerability of the particular worker.

For example, the precautions taken in a health care setting will likely differ from those in an office environment, and different precautions may be necessary for workers who have compromised immune systems.

Employees have a right to refuse unsafe work, although this right may be curtailed for certain workers, such as those employed in hospitals, long-term care homes, and certain other care providers. Regardless, even where the right to refuse unsafe work is curtailed, employers still have an obligation to provide a safe workplace.

While the refusal is underway pending a decision of the MoL H&S Inspector, the refusing worker can be assigned reasonable alternative work (so long as it’s consistent with Section 50 as referenced below) during the worker’s regular hours.

While  the refusal is underway, another worker can be asked to perform the work of the refusing worker so long as the 2nd worker has been informed of the refusal and reason why and this must be done in the presence of the Worker H&S Rep (who should obviously  be advising the  2nd worker to also exercise his/her legal right to refuse until the Ministry H&S Inspector has investigated and issued a decision)

Any discipline, threat of discipline, imposition of any penalty, or coercion or intimidation of a refusing worker is illegal as per Section 50 “Reprisals By Employer Prohibited’’. The failure to pay a refusing worker while the refusal is underway may be a prohibited reprisal, depending on the circumstances.

Finally, to ensure protection for any employees exercising the right to refuse, members should also be told the following:

  • The member needs to tell their Supervisor immediately that they are exercising their right to refuse (at the time of the refusal as opposed to telling the boss the next day you didn’t do something yesterday because of safety concerns),
  • The member needs to  clearly convey to their manager that their refusal is based on health or safety reason/concerns (not simply because you don’t like it or don’t want to do it and say later it was for safety reasons); and,
  • Members must exercise the right to refuse on an individual basis (i.e. no “group refusals” allowed by one spokesperson/Steward/Safety Rep telling the boss on behalf of the others).


If a worker is going to refuse unsafe work, they must follow the proper process to avoid discipline. The process under Ontario’s legislation is as follows:

Step 1
Report the unsafe work to a supervisor and advise that you are exercising the right to refuse unsafe work. The law requires the worker to remain in a safe place at work while the refusal is under way. Contrary to some members’ misconception, they can’t simply walk off the job and go home for example.
Step 2
The Employer must investigate the unsafe circumstance in the presence of the worker representative of the joint occupational health and safety committee.
Step 3
If the worker is not satisfied after the result of the investigation, they can continue to insist on exercising their right to refuse, in which case a Ministry of Labour inspector will need to be called. The Inspector will conduct an investigation in front of all parties. If the Inspector deems the work safe, work resumes.

Documents and Resources

The Ministry of Health (Ontario) has produced a number of guidance documents, including appropriate OH&S measures for healthcare workers in a variety of settings, including long-term care and community environments.

COVID-19:Guidance for the Health Sector

In British Columbia, all work by “must be carried out without undue risk of injury or occupational disease to any person” (Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, section 2.2, “OHSR”).


Also any guidelines put out by the relevant municipality will also likely guide what does and does not constitute an undue risk.

  • Employers have an obligation to remedy any unsafe or harmful condition without delay – OHSR section 3.9
  • Any person that observes an apparent unsafe or harmful condition or act must report it as soon as possible to a supervisor or employer – OHSR section 10
  • If emergency action is required to correct a condition which constitutes an immediate threat, which seemingly could include cleaning a potentially infected site, only workers who are properly qualified and instructed that are necessary to correct the unsafe condition may be exposed to the hazard – OHSR section 3.11
    • Our members, without proper protective gear and sufficient training, should not be cleaning sites that have known or are suspected to be contaminated with COVID-19.

All employees in BC must refuse work if they believe it presents an undue hazard to the health and safety of any person (WorkSafe Guidelines G3.12).

No worker can be subjected to disciplinary actions against for following the steps above.


When a worker refuses work due to safety concerns, to avoid discipline they must (OHSR section 3.12):

Step 1
A worker must immediately report the unsafe circumstances to their supervisor or employer;
Step 2
The supervisor must either remedy the unsafe condition as soon as possible or let the worker know that their report of the unsafe condition is not valid.
Step 3
If the above does not remedy the situation and the worker continues to refuse work due to safety concerns, then the supervisor or employer must investigate the matter in the presence of the worker who made the report and in the presence of:

  • a worker member of the joint committee
  • a worker who is selected by a trade union representing the worker, or
  • if there is no joint committee or the worker is not represented by a trade union, any other reasonably available worker selected by the worker.
Step 4
If all of the above does not resolve the matter both the employer and worker must immediately notify an Occupational Health and Safety officer who must investigate the matter without undue delay and will issue orders as necessary.

Documents and Resources

For BC specific information please consult the WorkSafe BC’s website at

WorkSafe BC’s: COVID-19 and the Work Place

On March 22, 2020, Nova Scotia declared a State of Emergency under the Emergency Management Act, and the Chief Medical Officer made the following orders among others under the Health Protection Act:

  • Social gatherings of more than five people are prohibited.
  • Any workplace or business that is not deemed essential can remain open as long as a two-metre or six-foot distance can be maintained. Workspaces must also be cleaned and disinfected at a minimum of twice daily or as required and employees must follow proper hygiene.

The Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) entitles employees to refuse work if they have “reasonable grounds for believing that the act is likely to endanger the employee’s health or safety or the health or safety of any other person.” Whether an employee has reasonable grounds for believing that work is likely to endanger their own or someone else’s health is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Relevant factors include but are not limited to:

  • whether there have been any suspected or confirmed cases of the new coronavirus at the workplace;
  • whether anyone in the workplace has travelled outside the Province within the previous 14 days;
  • the employee’s age;
  • whether the employee has any underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable;
  • if the employee is pregnant or breastfeeding; and
  • if the employer has provided equipment or imposed policies to protect the employee


Additionally, in Nova Scotia the right to refuse unsafe work cannot be exercised under certain circumstances, most notably (1) where the refusal places the life, health or safety of another person in danger or (2) where the danger is inherent to the employee’s work. If you are an employee in a health care setting or providing an essential service, your right to refuse unsafe work may therefore be limited.

If a worker is going to refuse unsafe work, to avoid discipline they must follow the proper procedure. The OHSA sets out the procedure whereby employees can exercise their right to refuse work. The process can be summarized as follows:

Step 1
Report the situation to your supervisor. Tell them you are refusing the work because it’s unsafe. The supervisor must investigate and fix the problem to your satisfaction so you can go back to work safely.

Remain at work. Go to a safe place, but do not leave. Your employer can assign you different work to do while they investigate.

If the supervisor cannot remedy the situation to your satisfaction, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2

Report the matter to the workplace Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (or Representative).

The Committee must investigate the situation and attempt to fix it so you can go back to work safely. If they do not conclude that the work is unsafe, they will advise you. If you agree with them, you can go back to work.

If your JOH&S Committee cannot remedy the situation to your satisfaction, proceed to Step 3.

Step 3
Report the matter to the Department of Labour and Advanced Education – OH&S DIVISION at 1-800-952-2687. There is someone available 24/7 to address your concerns.

The Department of Labour will investigate the situation. They will either fix it or tell you they have concluded the work is safe.

If the Department of Labour advises you the work is safe you must return to work, even if you disagree. If you don’t agree with the Department’s decision, an appeal process is available.

If the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee has unanimously advised the employee to return to work, the employee must do so or risk not being paid, even if they appeal to the Occupational Health and Safety Division. 

An employer may reassign an employee who has refused unsafe work to alternative duties during the period of their work refusal, subject to any relevant restrictions in the applicable employment contract.

An employee who has concerns about workplace safety should bring those concerns to their supervisor or joint occupational health and safety committee as soon as possible.

Other things you should know:

  1. Until this work refusal process is complete, the employer cannot force you to do the work that you have refused.
  2. If you have refused unsafe work, the law requires that you continue to be paid. The employer may assign you different work but even if they do not, they still must pay your wages until the process is finished.
  3. During the work refusal process in Nova Scotia, the employer may reassign the work you refused to someone else. But they can only do so if they advise that person: (1) that someone has refused the work because they believe it is unsafe; and (2) that they also have the legal right to refuse the work.
  4. The law prohibits the employer from penalizing you for refusing unsafe work. If you think you are being punished because you exercised your right to refuse unsafe work, you can file a complaint. Please contact your union representative for more information in that circumstance.

Documents and Resources

For information on proper procedures to follow in Nova Scotia 

Health and Safety: Nova Scotia

The Department of Health and Wellness also has a number of pre-existing guidance documents regarding OH&S protocols for workers in a variety of settings, many of which are available at:

Occupational Health: Nova Scotia

The Province of Nova Scotia has published a fact sheet on cleaning and disinfecting businesses, available at:

Nova Scotia: COVID-19 Facts

These measures will likely be important in determining whether an employee has reasonable grounds for believing that their health or safety are at risk due to COVID-19.

A general fear of contracting the new coronavirus within the workplace, without further reasons, will not likely in itself constitute reasonable grounds for a refusal in Nova Scotia. Nevertheless, the situation is changing rapidly. Members should pay close attention to all current government directives:

Nova Scotia: Alerts and Notices: State of Emergency

Employees that have been denied access to the workplace by their employer should follow the “work now, grieve later rule”, meaning they should obey their employer’s direction, and grieve if the employer has violated the employees’ rights under the collective agreement or statute.

Generally, employers have the right to tell an employee to go home if they are in fact sick. If an employer has grounds to question an employees’ fitness for work, they can insist that employees provide a medical certificate as proof they are fit to attend work.

If your employer has denied you access to the workplace because you may have been exposed to COVID-19 but are not showing symptoms, then you should claim any sick pay or EI benefits that are available.  If you think the decision by your employer is inconsistent with the most recent available public health advice from federal, provincial and local authorities, please contact a union Business Agent.

Employers have a duty to accommodate employees on the grounds of family status to the point of undue hardship. This includes a duty to accommodate childcare/eldercare obligations. This may require employer to permit employees to stay home, or where feasible consider flexible working arrangements such as working from home, depending on the circumstances. The Ontario Human Rights Commission released a statement March 13, 2020 which includes the following:
 “An employee who has care-giving responsibilities should be accommodated to the point of undue hardship, which might include staying home. These care-giving responsibilities which relate to the Code ground of family status could include situations where another family member is ill or in self-isolation, or where their child’s school is closed due to COVID-19.”
See the full statement from the Ontario Human Rights Commission here: There has been no similar statement in BC or Nova Scotia, but the above is almost certainly applicable to other provinces. In addition, your specific collective agreement may contain leaves applicable to the circumstances. Permitting employees to access leaves of absence negotiated under the collective agreement may also be part of the necessary accommodation.  The leaves available in applicable employment standards legislation may also be applicable, but in many circumstances the collective agreement provisions will provide a greater benefit.

For Ontario workers, the provincial government passed emergency legislation on March 19, 2020 to provide job protection to employees who cannot attend work for a variety of reasons related to COVID-19.

Infectious Disease Emergency Leave applies in the following circumstances:

  • If your employer directs you to stay home due to a concern you will expose others in the workplace to COVID-19;
  • If you are under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19;
  • If by staying home, you are acting in accordance with an order from a medical officer of health;
  • If you have been directed into isolation or quarantine;
  • If you are in quarantine, self-isolation, or subject to any other control measure in accordance with any direction or information from a public health official, a health practitioner, telehealth, board of health or any level of government;
  • If you cannot return to Ontario due to travel restrictions.
  • If you need to provide care or support (including psychological support) to a person for a reason related to an COVID-19 (e.g. a school or day-care closure), including to:
    • The employee’s spouse;
    • A parent, step-parent or foster parent of the employee or the employee’s spouse;
    • A child, step-child or foster child of the employee or the employee’s spouse;
    • A grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or of the employee’s spouse;
    • The spouse of a child of the employee;
    • The employee’s brother or sister; or
    • A relative of the employee who is dependent on the employee for care or assistance.

The leave will last for as long as you are not able to perform your work for reasons related to COVID-19, or until the provincial government no longer designates COVID-19 as an infectious disease for the purposes of this new legislation.

The amendments are retroactive to January 25, 2020. This will entitle any employee that has lost their job due any of the above reasons since January 25, 2020 to reinstatement.

An employer can demand evidence that is reasonable in the circumstances to support a claim for this leave, but may NOT require a doctor’s note.

This leave is significant, because it enables employees to access leave when acting in accordance with public health information that has been generally issued to the public from a government source or official. It relieves individual employees from the need to get a doctor’s note or note from public health in order to protect their job. For example:

“Given the greater risk of severe outcomes to Ontarians who are elderly, I am also strongly recommending that individuals over 70 years of age self-isolate. This means only leaving home or seeing other people for essential reasons. Where possible, you should seek services over the phone or internet or ask for help from friends, family or neighbours with essential errands. This also applies to individuals who have compromised immune systems and/or underlying medical conditions.”

It is important to note it does not protect employees who are acting based on non-prescribed sources of information or misinformation.

Employees that take this leave have the right to reinstatement when the leave is over. They must be placed in the same position if available, or a comparable one if not.

The rate of pay upon reinstatement must be either the same, or what it would have been had they not taken leave – whichever is greater.

Employees have the right to continue participating in their benefit plans (including pension plans) while on leave, unless they elect not to do so in writing. The employer continues to be responsible for their respective portions of any required benefits or pension contributions.

Employees are entitled to take their vacation pay during any unpaid ESA leave.

For workers outside Ontario: similar legislation may be passed your province. More information will be posted here when available.

The BC government is introducing amendments to the Employment Standards Act in response to COVID-19. 

A worker will be entitled to unpaid “COVID-19 related leave” without penalty if any of the following apply:

  • The worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • The worker is in quarantine or self-isolation in accordance with the guidelines of the BC Centre for Disease Control or the guidelines of the Public Health Agency of Canada;
  • the employer, due to the employer’s concern about the employee’s exposure to others, has directed the employee not to work;
  • the employee is providing care to a child or dependent, including because of the closure of a school or daycare or similar facility; or
  • the employee is outside the province and cannot return to British Columbia because of travel or border restrictions.

This leave applies for as long as the circumstance requiring the leave persists. Note that an employer can request “reasonably sufficient proof” that the circumstance applies to the employee. The employer cannot request a medical note. 

Your employer cannot terminate you or change a condition of your employment without your consent while you are on leave. Subject to seniority rights within a collective agreement, your employer must place you back into your previous position or a comparable position after your leave is finished.

No. If you receive a lay-off notice while on leave, the lay-off will not be effective until the leave is over, and you are able to return to work.

You continue to have the right to participate in benefit plans, and your employer will be required to make contributions provided you make any required employee contributions, if any.

Members’ personal medical information should be kept confidential by employers and not spread throughout the workplace. Unauthorized disclosure may violate employees’ rights in a whole litany of ways, including occupational health and safety laws, privacy legislation, common law torts, or collective agreement rights.

On the other hand, employers have an obligation to take every reasonable precaution to protect its workers, which may include informing employees that one of their co-workers has been exposed (or potentially exposed) to COVID-19.

Any infringement on employees’ privacy should be limited to the extent necessary to protect others’ health and safety.

Employment Insurance & Benefits

In the event of layoffs due to temporary closures related to COVID-19, employees can apply for regular Employment Insurance benefits provided they have enough hours to qualify. If the layoff is more than temporary, and depending on how long it lasts, employees may also be entitled to severance pay.

If you are unable to work because you are sick, whether because you have COVID-19 or any other illness, you claim any sick pay or weekly indemnity benefits available under the collective agreement at your specific workplace, just as you would with any other illness.

If you are unable to come to work, either because you have been directed by public health, a medical practitioner, or your employer to self-isolate or go into quarantine, then you should also claim any sick pay or weekly indemnity benefits available under your collective agreement.

If you have exhausted your collective agreement benefits, then you may qualify for Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits. At this time, employee must have 600 hours and experience a loss of at least 40% of their income to qualify for EI sick benefits.

The Federal Government has announced it will waive the normal one (1) week waiting period for EI for employees who are in quarantine or have been directed into self-isolation. There are few details at this time, but the waiver of the waiting period does not appear to cover circumstances of voluntary self-isolation, nor employees who are sick but not in quarantine or directed self-isolation.
Workers claiming EI sickness benefits due to quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate.

Workers who cannot complete their claim for EI sickness benefits due to quarantine may apply later and have their EI claim backdated to cover the period of delay.

Documents and Resources

Service Canada has indicated employees seeking to have the one (1) week period waived should call their dedicated coronavirus hotline once they have filed a claim online, the details of which can be found on their website:

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – Employment and Social Development Canada

To file a claim online

EI sickness benefits: Apply

If a worker thinks they were exposed to coronavirus while at work and subsequently show symptoms, they may be eligible for Worker’s Compensation benefits. However, this may be difficult to prove.

Worker’s compensation benefits will not be available for employees placed in quarantine or self-isolation who are not exhibiting symptoms.

Employees who file coronavirus-related workers’ compensation claims will also want to seek to access sick leave and/or EI benefits in case their claims are denied.

These other benefits will need to be paid back if the worker’s compensation claim is approved.

WSIB in Ontario has announced it will be dealing with claims on a case-by-case basis.

Documents and Resources

In Ontario: WSIB Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) update

In Nova Scotia: WCB Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) update

In British Colombia: WorkSafeBC Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) update

The federal government of Canada has recently introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to help those whose employment has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but who may not qualify for EI. The only income requirement is that you have earned or received EI sickness or parental benefits of $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12-month period immediately before applying for the CERB. You must be without work for 14 days as a result of COVID-19 before qualifying for the CERB. 

The CERB will provide workers whose incomes have been disrupted with $2,000 a month for a 4-month period. 

Individuals who are receiving EI benefits will not be eligible for the CERB. If your EI benefits cease in the four-month period, you would be able to apply for the CERB. If you would qualify for EI but have not begun receiving benefits you will be able to apply for the CERB. The government has mentioned that individuals may wish to apply for CERB benefits instead of EI as they may receive CERB benefits faster due to the large influx of EI claims. If you have not begun receiving EI benefits and your expected monthly EI benefit is less than $2,000 then you should apply for CERB benefits. 

An individual will not qualify for the CERB if they leave their employment voluntarily. It is unclear at this time whether workers who are on COVID-19 related leave will be eligible for the CERB.

The federal government hopes the CERB applications and funds will be available to individuals in early April 2020. This a very recent initiative and further announcements and potential changes to the CERB will be coming in the following days. 

In BC the provincial government has announced a one time $1,000 BC Emergency Benefit for Workers who have lost their employment. The BC government has said that both those that qualify and those that do not qualify for EI would be eligible for this benefit. There are not many details at this time, but the BC government has said they expect to begin accepting applications in May.

The federal government of Canada has recently introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to help those whose employment has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB will be available to individuals whether or not they qualify for EI. The only income requirement is that you have earned $5,000 or more, including any EI sickness or parental benefits you received, in 2019 or in the 12-month period immediately before applying for the CERB. You must be or expect to be without work for 14 days as a result of COVID-19 in the four-week period beginning March 15, 2020 to qualify for the CERB. If you are earning any income you will not be eligible for the CERB. The CERB will be available to those in quarantine, are sick with COVID-19 or are away from work to take care of dependents that are sick from COVID-19 or have had their school or care facility closed as a result of COVID-19.An individual will not qualify for the CERB if they leave their employment voluntarily. The CERB will provide workers whose incomes have been disrupted with $2,000 a month for a 4-month period.

Individuals who applied for EI previously from March 15, 2020 onwards will have their claims automatically processed through the CERB. Beginning April 6, 2020, the government will open a single portal for individuals who wish to apply for the CERB. This portal will be administered though the Canada Revenue Agency’s website or by phone. If you have not set up an account with CRA’s My Account you should do so prior to April 6, 2020. If you presently qualify for EI you should submit that application as soon as possible.

In BC the provincial government has announced a one time $1,000 BC Emergency Benefit for Workers who have lost their employment. The BC government has said that both those that qualify and those that do not qualify for EI would be eligible for this benefit. There are not many details at this time, but the BC government has said they expect to begin accepting applications in May.

For more information please visit:

Apply for Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) with CRA

For more information on the CERB please visit: 

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

Yes, but you need to have worked the required insurable hours in the 52 weeks leading up to the interruption in earnings. The hours requirement is based on regional unemployment up to a maximum of 700 hours.

Any earnings from another job while receiving EI benefits will result in a reduction in the amount of EI benefits an individual receives. An individual can keep 50 cents of EI benefits for every dollar earned or received while on claim, until their earnings reach 90% of the weekly earnings used to establish their claim. Any earnings above this cap are deducted dollar-for-dollar from benefits.

It is very important to accurately report any earnings while receiving EI benefits.

Documents and Resources

For a further description of this please visit:

Employment Insurance – Working While on Claim

Important Notice regarding benefit coverage for members of the SEIU Locals 1 & 2 BenefitTrust during the COVID-19 Crisis

The Trustees of the SEIU Local 1 & 2 Health and Welfare Trust (hereafter H & W Trust) have taken steps to ensure members of the plan who are off work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be eligible for benefits.

Information for Employees

Members of the plan that are laid off from work, or are on a leave of absence pursuant to the Employment Standards Act (inclusive of the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave), who were eligible for benefits at the time they ceased working, will continue to be eligible for benefit coverage until July 30, 2020

Information for Employers

Employers are required to continue making benefit contributions on behalf of employees who are on a leave pursuant to the Employment Standards Act, inclusive of the following:

    • Infectious Disease Emergency Leave
    • Declared Emergency Leave
    • Family Medical Leave
    • Critical Illness Leave
    • Family Caregiver Leave
    • Family Responsibility Leave
    • Bereavement Leave
    • Critical Death Leave
    • Sick Leave
    • Reservist Leave
  • In such circumstances, the H & W Trust will cover the employee’s portion (if any) of the monthly premiums.
  • In some circumstances, employers are required continue making benefit contributions on behalf of employees pursuant to a collective agreement or supplementary agreement between the Union and the Employer.
  • Employers are asked to notify the H & W Trust and the Union when an employee is laid-off so there is no disruption in the employee’s benefit eligibility.

Workplaces that are covered by the H & W Trust

ABM – American Building Maintenance
Alco Janitorial Services
Allen Maintenance Ltd / Pinkham & Sons
Alpine Building Maintenance Inc.
Aramark Services (Canada) Ltd.
Bee Clean (Halifax Airport)
Bee Clean (Ottawa)
Bee Clean (Toronto)
Bee Clean (Winnipeg)
Best Service Pros
BMI – Building And Maintenance Inc.
Cleanmatters Janitorial Services Ltd.
Commercial Cleaning Services/1434378 Ont. Inc
Compass Canada Support Services Ltd.
Corvin Building Maint. Ltd
Dexterra (Toronto)
Domus Building Cleaning Company
Dow Building Cleaners
Dustmoon Maintenence Ltd.
Eco Condo Management (Mtcc)
Estia Building Maintenance Services Inc.
Evripos Janitorial Services Ltd.
Fantastik Maintenance Service
GDI Services (Ottawa)
GDI Services (Toronto)
Hallmark Housekeeping
Hallmark Housekeeping Services Inc.
ICS Clean Inc
Impact Cleaning Services Ltd.
Ion Facility Services Inc
J & A Cleaning Solutions Ltd.
JMCC Cleaning & Maintenance Services
Kleenmax / Siloam Quality Cleaning Services
Lexus Cleaning Services Inc.
Luciano Janitorial Services
M.A. Independent Building Services
Menage Roy – Groupe Smr
Nasco Building Cleaning Inc.
National Maintenance
One Facility Maintenance
Rapid Cleaning
Reliable Cleaning Services
Santi Services (2007) Corporation
Select Maintenance
Servegreen Cleaning Services
Service Master Clean Of Niagara
Service Star Building Cleaning Inc.
Servicemaster Clean
Sodexo Canada Ltd
Solution Cleaning Services
Tbm Service Group (Topnotch)
Tri-Clean Building Services Inc
Tricom Building Maintenance
Unico Facility C&W Serv. Cda. Co.
Waterford Services
Wynford Services

Please direct inquiries about benefits to Global Benefits
Voice: 416-635-6000
Fax: 416-635-6464

The Trustees of the Union’s Benefit Trust have taken steps to ensure workers laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic do not lose their health benefits. All plan participants who are eligible at the time they are laid off will continue to be covered for a minimum three months to bridge workers through the crisis.

If you are laid off:

  1. Notify the union office immediately at:
  2. Apply for EI Benefits

If you are off work due to illness:

  1. You must first use any sick days you have under the collective agreement.
  2. Once you have used up your sick days you can apply for the Weekly Indemnity by contacting the Union office for application forms:

The Weekly Indemnity is designed to bridge you to EI Sick Benefits and provide additional coverage for illnesses that extend beyond the period that EI covers.

If you expect that you will be off for more than a week you should apply for EI Sick Benefits immediately.


If you have been laid off but are not sick

EI-regular benefits

For additional resources on Short-Term Disability eligibility and Covid-19

Blue Cross: COVID-19 Resource Centre

Additional Information

Health Canada Travel Advisories
Toronto Public Health
Ottawa Public Health
Ontario Public Health
BC Centre for Disease Control
Nova Scotia Public Health

Ontario’s list of essential workplaces that can remain open amid COVID-19 outbreak

On March 23rd the Ontario Government announced the closure of all non-essential workplaces from the period of 11:59 pm Tuesday, March 24th, 2020 for a minimum of 14 days. If this closure had lasted the minimum duration, non-essential workplaces could reopen no earlier than Wednesday, April 8th, 2020. On March 31st the closure was extended to continue until Tuesday, April 13th, 2020. The Ontario government has cautioned that they will evaluate weekly to determine whether to issue further extensions.

The government has provided a list of essential workplaces, which are not subject to the closure order. The full list is available under “links” to the right.

To assist our members, here a few selected from the list.  The ones applicable to janitors are highlighted. 

Supply Chains
1. Businesses that supply other essential businesses or essential services with the support, supplies, systems or services, including processing, packaging, distribution, delivery and maintenance necessary to operate;

Retail and Wholesaling
 2. Businesses engaged in the retail and wholesale sale of food, pet food and supplies, and household consumer products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences and businesses, including grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, markets and other similar retailers; 

4. Beer, wine and liquor stores and alcohol producers, and stores that sell beer and wine through arrangements with authorized providers; cannabis stores and cannabis producers;

Food Services and Accommodations
11. Restaurants and other food facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or takeaway, together with food delivery services;

 12. Hotels, motels, shared rental units and similar facilities, including student residences; 

Institutional, Residential, Commercial and Industrial Maintenance
 13. Businesses that provide support and maintenance services, including urgent repair, to maintain the safety, security, sanitation and essential operation of institutional, commercial industrial and residential properties and buildings, including, property management services, plumbers, electricians, custodial/janitorial workers, cleaning services, security services, fire safety and sprinkler systems, building systems maintenance and repair technicians and engineers, mechanics, (e.g. HVAC, escalator and elevator technicians), and other service providers who provide similar services; 

17. Businesses and facilities that provide transportation services to businesses and individuals including by air, water, road, and rail including providing logistical support, distribution services, warehousing and storage, including truck stops and tow operators;

18. Businesses that provide materials and services for the operation, maintenance and safety of transportation systems (road, transit, rail, air and marine) including delivery of maintenance services such as clearing snow, response to collisions, and completing needed repairs to the transportation systems.

Manufacturing and Production
19. Businesses that extract, manufacture, process and distribute goods, products, equipment and materials, including businesses that manufacture inputs to other manufacturers (e.g. primary metal/ steel, blow molding, component manufacturers, chemicals, etc. that feed the end-product manufacturer);

Agriculture and food production
21. Businesses that farm, harvest, process, manufacture, produce or distribute food, including beverages, crops, animal products and by-products, aquaculture, hunting and fishing;

Financial Activities
34. Businesses that provide financial services including payment processing, the payroll division of any employer (as defined by the Employment Standards Act/Occupational Health and Safety Act), any entity whose operation is the administration of payroll, banks and credit unions;

Utilities and Community Services
41. Utilities, and Businesses that support the provision of utilities and community services, including by providing products, materials and services needed for the delivery of utilities and community services:

  • Waste Collection, Waste/ Sewage Treatment and Disposal, operation of landfills, and Hazardous Waste Disposal;
  • Potable drinking water;
  • Electricity Generation, transmission, distribution and storage;
  • Natural Gas distribution, transmission and storage,
  • Road construction and maintenance;
  • police, fire, emergency services including coroner services and pathology services ;
  • corrections and courts services;
  • other government services including licenses and permits;

Health Care and Seniors Care and Social Services
52. Laboratories and specimen collection centres;

55. Businesses that provide products and/or services that support the health sector or that provide health services, including mental health and addictions and counselling supports.

57. Businesses that provide personal support services (many seniors and persons with disabilities, who can afford to, hire individuals to assist with the activities of daily living).

60. Businesses and all other organizations that support the provision of food, shelter, safety or protection, and/or social services and other necessities of life to economically disadvantaged and other vulnerable individuals, including but not limited to food banks, violence against women emergency shelters, homeless shelters, community housing, supportive housing, children’s aid societies, residential services for adults with developmental disabilities and for children, and custody and detention programs for young persons in conflict with the law;

Justice Sector
61. Professional and social services that support the legal and justice system

Other Businesses

63. Businesses providing mailing, shipping, courier and delivery services, including post office boxes;

64. Laundromats, dry cleaners and laundry service providers;

65. Professional services including lawyers and para-legals, engineers, accountants, translators;

66. Businesses providing funeral, mortician, cremation, transfer, and burial services, and any related goods and products (such as coffins and embalming fluid);

68. Businesses providing security services including private security guards; monitoring or surveillance equipment and services;

 70. Businesses that support the safe operations of residences and essential businesses; 

71. Businesses that provide for the health and welfare of animals, including veterinarians, farms,

72. Child care services for essential workers, and home child care services of less than six children;


For a complete List of Essential Workplaces visit the Government of Ontario website.

Government of Ontario: List of Essential Workplaces

The complete List of Essential Workplaces is also available in this CBC article.

CBC: Ontario releases list of essential workplaces that can remain open amid COVID-19 outbreak

Join our call in demanding safe workplaces and dignified wages for frontline janitors!