Directive 5 of the Chief Medical Officer of Health was changed as a result of pressure brought by grievances, a court case and workplace actions organized by CUPE, SEIU, ONA and Unifor. It was recently updated due to the Omicron variant, and now makes N95 respirator use mandatory in many situations. This is a guide to when the employer must provide you with an N95.

Changes to Directive 5

Employers are required to provide (and you are required to use) a fit-tested, seal-checked N95 respirator if you are:

  • Providing direct care or interacting with a suspected, probable, or confirmed case of COVID-19;
  • In a room where aerosol generating medical procedures are being performed, are frequently performed, or will probably be performed.

The N95 is mandatory PPE. However, if you are not provided with a fit-tested and seal-checked N95, you should ask the employer for one.

What if my employer says they don’t have enough equipment?

Employers have access to a large provincial stockpile if they are running short. Being worried about running out is not a reason for the Employer to deny a request under the conditions outlined in this card. 

Directive 5 now specifically says, “The public hospital or long-term care home will not deny access to a fit-tested, seal-checked N95 respirator (or approved equivalent).

What do I do if my employer won’t provide me with an N95 or any other required PPE?

Your CUPE Local can help defend your rights. If your employer refuses to provide an N95 or if you have any questions about health and safety law speak to your CUPE Local Executive, CUPE Health and Safety Committee Member or your National Rep.