Press Release: Frontline Healthcare Worker Tests Positive For COVID-19

SEIU Healthcare calling for action plan to keep Ontario healthy and secure

Richmond Hill, Ontario (March 23, 2020) — It was confirmed today that a frontline healthcare worker at Markhaven Home for Seniors, located in Markham, has tested positive for COVID-19 after the long-term care home first learned of a resident with the virus last week. Additional workers who may have been exposed to the virus are currently awaiting test results.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU Healthcare), which represents frontline staff at Markhaven, has been calling on the provincial command table to implement the lessons we learned from SARS to better ensure the protection of workers and the public. SEIU Healthcare is now calling on the government and all health providers to step up with an action plan to keep Ontario healthy and secure, including:

  1. Full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all staff who require it with unit-level infection control plans.
  2. Government to enforce mandatory protocols through directives, not unenforceable guidance, which only contribute to systemic inconsistencies that put workers and the public at risk.
  3. Paid administrative leave for all healthcare staff who require isolation and presumptive WSIB coverage for all healthcare workers in Ontario who get sick while fighting COVID-19.
  4. Table all human resource redeployment plans with workers and their unions to ensure fully staffed shifts for fully safe work environments.
  5. Ensure the retention of frontline workers by committing to full wage replacement for all homecare workers who shifts are cancelled through no fault of their own.

“Today’s alarming news is a consequence of a system that is moving too slow to protect workers and the public,” says Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Healthcare, the union that represents over 60,000 frontline healthcare workers in hospitals, nursing homes, and home and community care. “It’s time decision makers put themselves in the shoes of the frontline healthcare workers who are putting themselves in danger to fight the war on COVID-19. While they fight for us, health system administrators and the provincial government should be there for them. We need a new action plan to meet the moment because efforts to date are falling short and putting families at risk.”


SEIU Healthcare represents more than 60,000 healthcare and community service workers across Ontario. The union’s members work in hospitals, homecare, nursing and retirement homes, and community services throughout the province. SEIU Healthcare has a strong track record of improving wages, benefits and working conditions for healthcare workers, supporting the training and development needs of its members, and strengthening standards in the management and delivery of patient and client care.