A home health-care worker is someone who provides health care services in private homes through a Local Health Integration Network or an organization that receives funding from the Ministry of Health or a Local Health Integration Network.

Home health-care workers have the right to ask a person not to smoke or vape in their presence while they are providing health care services. If a person refuses to stop smoking or vaping, the home health-care worker has the right to stop what they are doing and leave, unless doing so would present an immediate, serious danger to someone’s health.

The regulation under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (SFOA, 2017) requires that a home health care worker who exercises his or her right to leave a home notify their employer within 30 minutes or as soon as reasonably possible:

  • that the worker has left
  • whether an appropriate person is present and available to care for the client
  • if the client would require care in the next 24 hours
  • in what situation the client was in when the worker left
  • whether there are any unusual circumstances and if so, what they are

As well, the worker must follow any guidelines provided by the employer that are reasonably aimed at making sure the client is kept safe and provided with a reasonable level of care.

Employers are not permitted to:

  • dismiss (or threaten to dismiss) an employee
  • discipline or suspend an employee (or threaten to do so)
  • impose any penalty upon an employee
  • intimidate or coerce an employee, because the employee (including a health care worker) has exercised their rights under the SFOA, 2017 or attempted to enforce the SFOA, 2017

Workers in the healthcare sector have additional rights and requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

For more information, please call the Ministry of Labour Health and Safety Contact Centre:

Toll-Free: 1-877-202-0008
TTY: 1-855-653-9260

Or visit the Ministry of Labour website.

Print the Home Health Care Workers Fact Sheet.