Support For Laid Off Workers

Dear Members,

As many of you already know, due to the COVID-19 situation the University has recently began temporarily laying off workers for the summer. 

Layoff notices were first issued in the middle of May, and have primarily affected workers in Food Services. Recently, workers in athletic services have also been laid off, and in the upcoming weeks, we will see more workers in Food Services laid off. 

The University has offered a temporary top-up of 80% of regular income, up to a maximum of $250/week ($1000/month), minus payroll deductions, to all laid off workers who are recipient of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The top-up will be provided for 13 weeks, and will be paid out on your regular pay days. The university will also continue to provide benefits to those who are laid off at no premium expense to the worker. 

This means that with the CERB, laid off workers can receive a total of $3000/month, thus we encourage those who are eligible to apply for both the CERB and the top-up. Please note: the CERB allows workers to supplement their income by no more than $1000/month. If you have another job, or receive income that puts you over the $1000 threshold, you may not be eligible for the CERB and/or payments may be clawed back by the CRA in the near future. 

In order to apply for the top-up, you must login to the HR Service Centre and fill out an application, with proof that you have received the CERB (i.e. bank statement). 

To apply for the CERB, visit

Members who need additional emergency financial assistance are encouraged to consult the Ontario Works program, a provincial benefit program for low-income/unemployed Ontarians.  Call them to determine whether or not you are eligible.

Members can also continue accessing EFAP (The Employee and Family Assistance Program). EFAP offers counselling, information and resources for all employees and their dependent family members. Examples include:
• Emotional Support: counselling, coaching, online courses, and tip sheets on stress and
anxiety management, resilience, and other mental health supports
• Financial Planning: coaching, online courses, and tip sheets on topics such as budgeting,
managing financial stress, debt management, and handling financial setbacks

Services are offered remotely and confidentially 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year
by calling 1-800-663-1142. Additional tools and resources for managing finances, anxiety, stress
and resilience can be found at:

Pension: If you are enrolled in the University’s pension plan, you can continue to accrue
pensionable service during your temporary layoff. A letter outlining your required contributions
will be sent by regular mail to your home address. Please log in to Employee Self Service to
ensure your mailing address is correct, or work with your manager to have it updated on your

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact your union president by calling the union office at 416-946-7620 or emailing Allan at

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COVID-19 Update – Temporary Layoffs

Dear CUPE 3261 members,

I am writing to you today with difficult news about COVID-related layoffs at the University of Toronto.

Today the employer has issued notices of temporary layoff to 59 members of CUPE 3261. This includes full-time and part-time workers of the main bargaining unit, as well as workers in the 89 Chestnut bargaining unit. These are all COVID-related layoffs, and are different from usual seasonal layoffs.

The University has indicated after weeks of maintaining Pay Continuity for our members, they are unable to financially sustain this for revenue-generating departments such as food services, parking services, or athletic services that are losing business. The University has explained that this is why the layoffs are primarily happening in departments who sustain their staff out of their revenue.

These are temporary layoffs. Depending on how the COVID situation plays out, these workers will be recalled as per recall provisions of our collective agreements.

“Top-up” income from UofT on top of CERB during COVID layoff

While this is certainly tough news to get during economic instability under COVID, we welcome the news from the University that all full-time and part-time members getting COVID-related temporary layoffs will get a top up to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) of 80% of their salary, or $1000 per month ($250 per week), whichever is less. As mentioned above, this is only to cover COVID-related temporary layoffs, and not all layoffs.

CERB is the benefit that workers who have lost work due to COVID should apply for, which is different from regular EI benefits that other laid off workers could be eligible for. To get the top-up from the university, these 59 members must apply for CERB.

How to apply to CERB

The application for CERB can be found online:

There is also a detailed Q&A available from CUPE about CERB:


Those laid off due to COVID are eligible for CERB benefits as long as they make no more than $1000 a month.

However, if any of these 59 CUPE 3261 members have other jobs where they make some money, getting the top-up from UofT may put them over the $1000 monthly cap. This may result in some benefit clawback from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The CERB is only intended for those who have lost work due to COVID and do not make more than $1000 per month.

Continuation of benefits during COVID layoff

We also welcome the news from the University that for those who are already enrolled in benefits as of April 30, 2020 and are being laid off due to COVID, the University will pay both employer and employee contributions. These benefits include extended health care, dental care, vision care, life insurance and long term disability.

Casual workers

We understand many casual workers are having hours reduced or are not getting any hours of work. However, the University has explained that since casual workers will not be technically laid off like a full-time or part-time worker, they are not be eligible for the top-up. However, casual workers losing work due to COVID are eligible for CERB, so we encourage you to apply if you have not already.

CUPE 3261’s next steps

Your union is in the process of getting the names of the laid off workers from the employer. We plan to have CUPE 3261 stewards reach out to all laid off members and ensure they are aware of all of the information above. In the meantime, please let us know if you have any questions.

It has now been over 8 weeks of COVID. Since the beginning, CUPE 3261 has been receiving all our members’ questions and concerns. CUPE 3261 has also been in regular discussions with the employer since the beginning of this pandemic crisis advocating for each and every CUPE 3261 member. None of us wanted this. We know that the University has also done a lot of our work to avoid this situation. The government response to this crisis has been unjust and unfair. They have bailed out financial institutions and the super rich, but are not investing enough into public services or into working class people. Corporations and the super rich are not only not paying their fair share, we are all subsidizing their private profit from the public purse. This is wrong. CUPE 3261 disagrees with the Ontario government’s underfunding of our vital public services, whether it is long term care or universities, which leads to systemic inequality that affects workers and public service users.

CUPE 3261 is working with all levels of CUPE as well as partners within the UofT community, such as other unions and student unions to develop a joint campaign to put people over profit, to fund high quality public services for all, and soon we will release more information on how you can help. We have a tough journey ahead of us, but together, I believe that we will come out of this situation stronger.

With you always,


COVID-19 Update – April 30, 2020

April 30, 2020.

Dear members of CUPE 3261,

Pay continuity:

The University of Toronto’s commitment to pay continuity for our faculty, librarians and staff has been consistent since March 14. Most have been working from home, while others – essential workers or those performing critical functions – have been working on site. This will continue to be the case after April 30.

Some of our staff members have been unable to work at all, because their units have completely or partially shut down due to physical distancing requirements. In the coming weeks, leaders across the University will be exploring all options to see how we can keep staff in these units engaged and supported.

Members should continue to talk to their manager and Supervisors to access:

COVID sick leave;

COVID self-isolation;

COVID childcare;

COVID immunocompromised.

The University is prepared to provide access to the Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) to casual employees in the CUPE 3261 – 89 Chestnut and CUPE 3261 Casual bargaining units on a without prejudice and without precedent basis for the duration of the COVID declared emergency.

Protecting our members remains our main priority, although things may feel hopeless rest assure it will end at some point, we must continue be positive and refrain from pointing our fingers.

This type of behaviour is counterproductive. We need the think of our brothers and sisters that may be less fortunate than ourselves.

I believe in our members humanity, and justice for all.

Together we can combat this!

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” –Mahatma Gandhi

Allan James

President CUPE 3261

COVID-19 Update – April 21, 2020

April 21, 2020

Dear members of CUPE 3261,

As we continue to deal with this new reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, members have expressed frustration, anxiety, and fear to me.

Your union has continually engaged the employer about income security for all members and health & safety protection for those reporting to work.

The University’s current position is that there will be Pay Continuity until the 30th of April, 2020. Will Pay Continuity be extended after that time? We are waiting for confirmation as the University has told us that it is assessing the situation to make that determination.

There have been rumors about layoff after April 30th, however it is inappropriate to assume anything without confirmation from the employer. If there are layoffs, there is language in our Collective Agreement that describes layoff process:

From the FT/PT main unit’s Collective Agreement:


16:06 In the event of a layoff, the Employer agrees that employees shall be laid off in the reverse order of their seniority. The employees shall be recalled to work in order of their seniority.

16:07 Any employee who is laid off may displace an employee with less seniority in the same classification or a lower classification wherein it is determined that they are qualified and capable of performing the duties of that classification.

Temporary Layoff Notice

16:12 The Employer shall notify the employee who is to be laid off ten (10) working days before the layoff is to be effective. If the employee to be laid off has not had the opportunity to work ten (10) full working days after notice of layoff, the employee shall be paid in lieu of that part of ten (10) days during which work was not available.

Your union will continue to engage with the employer to access the most current and confirmed information and continue to advocate on your behalf.

As always, we are going to get through this together!

Stay safe and look out for one another.

Allan James

President CUPE 3261




COVID-19 Update – April 7, 2020

April 7th 2020.

Dear Friends,

Thank you to all staff of CUPE 3261– who are making sacrifices to support the COVID-19 coronavirus fight. You are our heroes.

The Union have been actively engaging with the employer, to deliver the latest information to our members.

There have been questions on Employees who fill out the COVID/Illness Declaration Form, and the extension on the Pay Continuity which goes to April 30th, 2020.

The Employer has indicated on a revaluation on our current situation and will inform staff accordingly after the April 30th deadline expires.

Members have indicated there was a deleting of two options on the current form:

  • Immunocompromised Self Isolation.
  • Those impacted by COVID School or Daycare Closures.

Management has confirmed that nothing has changed, and members should continue to talk to their manager and Supervisors to access a) COVID sick leave, b) COVID self-isolation, c) COVID childcare, d) COVID immunocompromised.

The process remains the same, i.e. the work from home arrangements and all other issues, including sick leave, quarantine and/or self isolation, childcare, etc., are to be discussed with the employee’s manager. The form is not and never has been a substitute for the discussion with the employee’s manager in respect of the employee’s status, so nothing material has changed, just the format of the form.

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, resulting in the closure of on-campus activities, Transportation Services will suspend parking charges for the month of April 2020. Going forward, you will also not be charged for any subsequent months the closure remains in effect. Parking fees will be reinstated once all on-campus activities resume.  

Important: Regardless of your method of payment, should you wish to permanently cancel your permit, you must electronically submit a completed cancellation form. There are no exceptions.

Together, we can get through this. My appreciation and gratitude to all members knowing how much our union value your service and commitment.

Take Care and Stay Safe!

Allan James

President CUPE 3261

COVID-19 Update – March 23rd, 2020

Dear Friends,

As we cope with a new realty of the COVID-19 virus, it is important for our members to be safe and help one another in these difficult times.

Our members are brave and resilient.  We will get through this together.

I personally want to thank everyone for your work and dedication, in this unprecedented situation.

Here is some information to consider if you decide to stay at home:

All Employees must fill out a COVID/Illness Declaration Form through your ESS.

Members must indicate one of the following Absence:

  • Self-Isolation
  • Sick Leave
  • Immunocompromised Self Isolation
  • Those impacted by COVID School or Daycare Closures

COVID-19 sick leave will not be included in any attendance management process under our Collective Agreement

For the purposes of absences due to sickness caused by COVID-19, requirements to provide a medical note will be waived, to prevent additional strain on healthcare providers

 COVID-19 Sick Leave

While many of our appointed employees have sick leave provisions in their respective collective agreement or employment policies that sufficiently address such absences, the University has, on an exceptional and without prejudice or precedent basis, temporarily modified and/or improved upon some of the existing provisions for employees who become sick due to COVID-19.

  • Employees with paid sick leave in their collective agreement or employment policy should use paid sick leave if they become sick due to COVID-19.
  • Employees who have exhausted paid sick leave in accordance with the applicable collective agreement or employment policy will be provided additional days of paid sick leave sufficient to cover a sickness due to COVID-19
  • Employees in bargaining units or employee groups that do not have paid sick leave provisions will suffer no loss of pay as a result of sickness due to COVID-19, pursuant to the following:
    • Hourly paid employees will be paid for the greater of either any scheduled shifts that they miss up to and including April 5, 2020 if the absence is due to sickness caused by COVID-19, or the average weekly wages for casual employees calculated on the basis of the formula set out in the Employment Standards Act (ESA) for public holiday pay if the absence is due to sickness caused by COVID-19

COVID-19 Self-Isolation

  • COVID-19 Self-Isolation refers to employees who are instructed to self-isolate as follows: by a healthcare professional, or:
  • Due to recent travel as set out in applicable direction from an applicable government authority, or
  • Due to potential exposure as set out in applicable direction from an applicable government authority
  • Employees in self-isolation whose roles allow them to work from home are expected to perform the full scope of their duties to the extent possible while in self-isolation
  • Employees in self-isolation whose roles are not suited to work from home will continue to receive their regular salary (for salaried employees) or for casual / hourly paid employees, the greater of either any scheduled shifts that they miss up to and including April 5, 2020, or the average weekly wages for casual employees calculated on the basis of the formula set out in the Employment Standards Act (ESA) for public holiday pay (see Appendix A) for the period March 14 – April 5, 2020

My thoughts and prayers are with you in these times, stay safe and take care of your coworkers, family and love ones.

If you have any concerns, feel free to contact me.


Allan James

President CUPE 3261

Pay Continuity

To all members: please note that the university has enacted a “pay continuity” policy that is currently active from March 16th to April 5th. This means that regardless of your situation (sick, self-isolating, or well), you will be paid your regular wages during this time. This applies to all employees, including term, temporary and casuals. If you have been sent home, or your hours have been cut, you will be paid your regular wages.  Please review the guidelines to understand how the policy works.

If the policy is not being enforced in your department, follow up with your manager to ensure they are aware. If you have any concerns, please contact your union. 

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