In September, TCHC announced its intentions to restructure. Since then, Local 79 has met with management and attended meetings hosted by Chief Operating Officer Sheila Penny. In those meetings, TCHC committed to creating a restructuring advisory committee that would solicit staff input on their plans. While we wait for TCHC to make good on its promises to consult, we are taking the initiative to solicit and record members’ feedback.
We will be polling members on issues such as health and safety in the service hubs, process changes, staff plans and assignment. But in order to receive restructuring updates and participate in member polls, members need to make sure their contact information, including email address, is updated in the Local 79 Members’ Portal.
Please see the letter Local 79 President Dave Mitchell wrote to the TCHC’s COO Kevin Marshman concerning the Seniors Housing Unit.
November 25, 2019
Chief Operating Officer
Toronto Community Housing Corporation
931 Yonge Street, 7th Floor
Toronto, ON M4W 2H2
RE: Seniors Housing Unit
I am writing with concerns about the new staff plan and allocation of assignments and sites for the Seniors Housing Unit (SHU). Local 79 has yet to see a comprehensive and detailed staff plan. With extremely tight deadlines for implementation and recent resignation of the General Manager, there will now be a void in leadership as Joan White had been guiding this process since the beginning.
Seniors Housing Staff Plan
The new operating model was designed to help vulnerable seniors to be successful in their tenancies. Our members in the Tenant Services Coordinator (TSC) and Community Services Coordinator (CSC) positions play a vital role in supporting seniors. Local 79 and staff were told that in the new seniors housing model these roles would be replaced with a Housing Stability Coordinator (HSC) and Tenant Services Administrator (TSA). From the beginning, Local 79 was told that there would be no loss of jobs and that staff would be trained to help them transition into these new roles. We have just been informed that our members will now have to reapply for their jobs when this was never indicated before.
The TSC and CSC positions are two crucial and distinct roles for service delivery. We are concerned that due to the vast difference in these roles, there will be members excluded from eligibility for the Housing Stability Coordinator position that combines these roles. For example, there may be CSC’s that have years of experience but do not know the TSC side of service. There are also twice as many TSC’s than CSC’s so although we have been told there will be more jobs in the new model, both will be at a disadvantage from not having performed the other’s duties.
Moreover, if the Housing Stability Coordinator position is open to all TCHC staff, there will be no security for existing seniors housing staff to stay within their portfolio. This will affect continuity of service and the good working relationships built between tenants and staff will be lost. Seniors are a vulnerable population who rely on their established support systems and staff they know and trust.
We are requesting a meeting to discuss these concerns, and that a comprehensive staffing review and deployment plan be developed with consideration of the following:
- Grandfathering of TSC and CSC into new positions through job matching
- Automatic screening in of all current seniors housing TSC and CSC positions for the role of Housing Stability Coordinator
- Training for TSC’s and CSC’s, as committed by TCHC, to transition into new roles
- Job security for current seniors housing staff to stay in the portfolio and maintain consistency of services to tenants
- Provisions to prevent existing TSC and CSC in seniors housing from being excluded from future rounds of job postings for new positions (i.e. rollout is starting with 18 buildings, so staff are eligible to apply for all future rounds of job postings until implementation is complete)
There are many uncertainties for staff in seniors housing. The lack of communication to staff is causing confusion, affecting staff morale and service delivery. Any discussion of the allocation of assignments and sites needs to include Local 79.
423 Yonge Street
I would like to take this opportunity to address work conditions at 423 Yonge Street. Since the flood earlier this year, staff have not had a proper workspace to effectively manage their cases and ensure their health and safety. Electrical cords have not been secured, there are make-shift workspaces without proper desk chairs, and staff have poor access to the files they need to complete their work and must go to the parking/ basement level where there are unauthorized members of the public in the stairwells.
These (temporary) conditions have been in place since the beginning of 2019 with little to no progress made on renovations. Staff have been given no indication on a timeline for completion and current conditions were not set up to adequately meet the needs of staff. If the temporary space is going to continue, there needs to be an assessment of the workplace with the health, safety and functionality of staff in mind.
We wish to work in conversation with TCHC through our Health and Safety Coordinator to rectify this situation before contacting the Ministry of Labour. We would also like to include 1021 Birchmount Road in our discussions as seniors housing staff are also working in make-shift workstations with impeded access to washrooms at this location.
I am disappointed that such disregard for staff in seniors housing has occurred on many fronts. Local 79 has received an overwhelming number of calls from members, who in the face of uncertainty and changes to what they were previously told by management, are requesting a meeting with us. Local 79 is arranging with the onsite Manager at 423 Yonge Street to meet with members in seniors housing and I appreciate your support on this endeavour.
CUPE Local 79