December 21, 2021
ONA is closely monitoring this situation, and has initiated a special task force to monitor and respond to the threat of the coronavirus. We will provide information, and actions as the information unfolds. If you have any questions or concerns, please speak with your Bargaining Unit President.
ONA Members: Please send your COVID-19 questions to ONAmail@ona.org. .
Bill 195 – the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020
On July 7, 2020, the Solicitor General introduced Bill 195 – the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020. ONA strongly opposes Bill 195 as a draconian, sweeping and unnecessary grant of power to employers to override collective agreement provisions and the grievance arbitration procedure. It permits the government to continue to maintain and modify emergency orders made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act for at least a year after the end of the declared emergency, and possibly longer. We will continue to provide updates as Bill 195 works through the legislative process and we will advise if public hearings are called. Click here to learn more.
Alert – Substitution of Technical Grade Ethanol in Hand Sanitizer
It has come to our attention that, due to supply issues, some manufacturers are substituting food grade ethanol with technical grade ethanol in some hand sanitizers. Health Canada has issued a time limited approval to use technical grade ethanol while supply shortages of the higher-grade ethanol exist. However, because it contains toxicological properties including carcinogenicity, Health Canada has required that manufacturers notify all customers that technical grade ethanol is in the product and to label the containers with the following warnings: “Do not use on broken or damaged skin. Do not use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not inhale.” Click here for the complete memo.
Redeployment to Long-Term Care
As a result of emergency orders issued, some health-care employers may redeploy staff to long-term care homes. Below is a checklist designed to help you ensure that you are provided with the training, education, information, instruction and supervision required to keep you safe during your deployment. If, after completing this checklist, any of the boxes remain unticked immediately advise your supervisor and speak to your JHSC ONA representative and your Bargaining Unit President.
Inappropriate Face Masks
We are aware that reusable face masks are being made with cotton fabric. These are being offered to nurses and health-care professionals. Please know that the effectiveness of these cotton face masks is unproven, and may put you further at risk. Our best advice is to respectfully decline the offer of these cotton face masks. We strongly advise you to continue to use only approved personal protective equipment. See guidance from Health Canada at this link
ONA Vaccination Statement
The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) and its members are doing their part in both administering the vaccine and receiving it themselves.
ONA recommends that health-care workers receive the vaccine if they can, while recognizing that this is a decision that needs to be made by the health-care worker based on voluntary and informed consent, and where appropriate, with the advice of a health-care professional.
COVID-19 vaccinations, while beneficial in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, are not a complete answer, but only part of a health and safety and infection control program. ONA expects all employers to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and take every precaution reasonably necessary to protect the health and safety of workers. This includes easy access to, and the use of, N95 respirators and other personal protective equipment.
ONA encourages employers to remove the barriers that are likely causing vaccine hesitancy. Some employers are making little meaningful effort to facilitate staff vaccination uptake.
For example, are they hosting vaccine clinics at their workplaces? Are they providing sick pay to employees who cannot work following their vaccination due to side effects? Punishing or shaming unvaccinated employees is not the answer. Providing sick pay to any employee experiencing side effects, including part-time and casual employees, and providing paid time to obtain the vaccine would foster vaccine uptake.
Government of Canada
Ontario Ministry of Health
Visit the Ministry of Health website to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario.
- COVID-19 About Vaccines (December 12, 2020)
- COVID-19 Vaccine Approval Process and Safety (December 12, 2020)
- COVID-19 Vaccine Availability and Rollout (December 12, 2020)
- COVID-19 Cover Letter for Long-Term Care Home Staff (December 12, 2020)
- COVID-19 Vaccine Consent Form (December 14, 2020)
- COVID-19 What you need to know before your COVID-19 vaccine appointment (December 13, 2020)
- COVID-19 Administration of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (December 13, 2020)
- COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sheet - Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (December 13, 2020)
- COVID-19 Vaccine After Care Sheet (December 12, 2020)
- COVID-19 Guidance: Managing Health Care Workers with Symptoms within 48 Hours of Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine (December 14, 2020) English | French
Telephone Town Halls: Wednesday, September 15, 2021
ONA First Vice-President Cathryn Hoy, CEO Beverly Mathers and ONA President Vicki McKenna held two telephone town halls on Wednesday, September 15. These sessions covered vaccine policies, ONA's position and any vaccine-related questions that members had.
- December 23, 2021: ONA Statement on Volunteering at Vaccination Clinics
- December 1, 2021: ONA says Failure to Maintain Stockpiles of PPE Inexcusable
- October 26, 2021: Charges Laid Against Kensington Village Nursing Home
- September 13, 2021: MEDIA STATEMENT: Ontario Nurses’ Association Adamantly Opposed to Today’s Anti-Vaccine Protests
ONA in the News
- ONA President Cathryn Hoy tells the Hamilton Spectator (TheSpec.com, May 27, 2022) that “This election, you’re voting for your public health care. I don’t think we’ve ever been in as much trouble as we are with health care.” The report notes that Ontario’s response to COVID-19 has depended on strong public health departments. But the future of public health is unclear under Ford’s sweeping changes to the health-care system, including amalgamating the 34 units down to as few as 10 and postponed cuts to funding. The report also notes that hallway medicine was routine in Ontario hospitals years before the pandemic hit. But COVID drove home how overcrowded hospitals have no surge capacity. Over the last two years, procedures and services were put on hold while lockdowns were necessary to protect the health-care system from being overwhelmed. This has led to trouble for patients, says Hoy. “I’m having a heart attack in my community and all of the ambulances are at the hospital waiting to offload,” as an example of what can happen. Hamilton’s hospitals were short 738 staff as of May 3 — almost half of those vacancies were nurses. Very few were applying to the jobs, says Hamilton Health Sciences. Ontario was short 22,000 RNs before the pandemic began; COVID has only made the shortfall worse as burned-out health-care workers retired in droves, left the profession altogether or were recruited in what has become an increasingly competitive global market for scarce human health resources. “Building buildings, saying you’re going to hire, it’s not going to work,” says Hoy. “Every nurse that’s licensed that wants to work now is working.” The staff shortages are wreaking havoc on every part of the health-care system from long-term care to home care to primary care to cancelled surgeries in hospitals. “We have to have a rebuilding plan,” she says. Other suffering health-care sectors include long-term care, and pressures for mental health care for pediatric patients.
- A letter to the editor of the Brantford Expositor (Brantford Expositor, May 24, 2022) from ONA member DeAnna Renn urges her community to support quality publicly funded health care when they vote on June 2. She writes that, “For decades our government has underfunded public health care and allowed privatization to seep in. Health-care professionals know that when private corporations are involved in health care, their goal is to make profit, not provide care. They do this by keeping wages low, slashing benefits and cutting corners to spend less. This was demonstrated during the pandemic, where for-profit long-term care homes had 78 per cent more resident deaths due to COVID-19 compared to non-profit homes. In addition, residents in for-profit homes are 60 per cent more likely to become infected with COVID-19.” The province has the lowest per capita spending on health care, the fewest beds per capita and the worst ratio of RNs to population in the country. “This means when you need care, there may not be a nurse to provide it,” she writes.
- The Ottawa Citizen (May 4, 2022) reports that Ottawa hospitals are experiencing very long wait times in their ERs as COVID-19 is “still packing a punch.” In a statement, The Ottawa Hospital says it is experiencing “increased pressures” on its emergency departments and ambulance offload processes. COVID outbreaks and staffing shortages due to COVID or exposure to the virus are among the reasons. ONA Bargaining Unit President Rachel Muir says the shortage of nurses was already a crisis situation and this is exacerbating the issue. “It’s worse than they make it sound,” she says. “I’m glad they’re making these statements because wait times have been long for a long time. We’re seeing a lot of frustration from patients and their family members. Is it getting better? Not at this point. Is it getting worse? Hard to tell. But it is absolutely not getting better. Front-line workers are seeing patients as quickly as they possibly can. But there are only so many of them.”
For the latest information, visit the Ontario government's COVID-19 webpage.
Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) COVID-19 Directives
- Directive #1 for Health Care Providers and Health Care Entities (updated December 17, 2021)
- Directive #3 for Long – Term Care Homes under the Long – Term Care Homes Act, 2007 (updated December 17, 2021)
- Directive #4 for Ambulance Services and Paramedics under the Ambulance Act (updated December 17, 2021)
- Directive #5 for Hospitals within the meaning of the Public Hospitals Act and Long – Term Care Homes within the meaning of the Long – Term Care Homes Act, 2007 (updated December 17, 2021)
- COVID-19 Chief Medical Officer of Health Directive #5: Questions and Answers (December 21, 2021)
- Memo: Deputy Ministers to Health-Care CEOs (December 17, 2021)
- Directive #6 for COVID-19 Vaccination Policy in Health Settings (updated August 17, 2021)
Long-Term Care Sector Updates
- MLTC Memo “Pandemic Response Update” (December 23, 2021)
- Fact Sheet: Respirator Fit Testing (December 21, 2021)
- Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Memo (December 24, 2021)
- MLTC Memo “Pandemic Response Update” (December 31, 2021)
- Minister’s Directive: Long-term care home COVID-19 Immunization Policy (December 31, 2021)
- “I work in a long-term care home and tested positive or was exposed to a (presumed or confirmed) positive close contact. Now what?” (December 31, 2021)
- Key Messages to Support Residents and Families (December 31, 2021)
- COVID-19 Vaccine Consent Form (December 31, 2021)
- Key Messages to Support Obtaining Consent for Fourth Doses in LTC (December 31, 2021)
- Public Health Ontario – LTC Info Sheet Specimen Collection and Requisition (December 31, 2021)
- Public Health Ontario - Respiratory Outbreak Testing Prioritization Protocol (October 22, 2020)
- MLTC Memo “Pandemic Response Update” (January 4, 2022)
- COVID-19 guidance document for long-term care homes in Ontario Effective December 30, 2021
Documents related to "Enhanced Measures for Long-Term Care Homes" guidance - December 2021:
- MLTC Memo "Enhanced Measures for LTC Homes" (December 14, 2021)
- Requirements and Guidance for Long-Term Care Homes Effective December 17, 2021
- Key Messages to Support Residents and Families (December 14, 2021)
- Minister’s Directive: Long-term care home COVID-19 immunization policy Effective December 15, 2021 at 7 p.m.
- Minister’s Directive: COVID-19 Long-Term Care Home Surveillance Testing and Access to Homes Effective December 17, 2021
- MLTC Memo "Extending the Co-payment Waiver Program" (December 16, 2021)
- Co-payment Waiver Program Key Messages and Q&As (December 16, 2021)
COVID-19 Command Table Updates
Click here to view all Provincial Command Table Memorandums.
COVID-19 Collaboration Table Summaries
Click here for the complete list of Emergency Orders that have been put in place to-date.
Recent Government Communications
Click here for a complete list of government memos and communications.
Guidance for the Health Sector
Ontario Health Memo
Re: Ramp down of elective surgeries and non-emergent/non-urgent acute care activities (April 8, 2021)
Re: Supporting Health Care Workers and Hospitals with Authority for Enhanced Practice Scope within Alternate Models of Care and Staff Redeployment from Independent Health Facilities (April 22, 2021)
Amended documents relating to the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020
- Updated Case Definition - COVID-19
- The link below is produced and monitored by HealthForceOntario to recruit health-care professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic "who may be working part-time and want to and are prepared to increase their work hours or former healthcare providers who are retired, or on inactive status with their regulatory college; and are prepared to return to employment." Note that ONA does not endorse nurses and health-care professionals working in more than one health-care facility during a pandemic. This is also advice recommended by Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health. http://www.healthforceontario.ca/en/M4/COVID19
- Preventing 2019-nCoV Novel Coronavirus from Spreading to Others in Homes and Communities
- FAQs on 2019 Novel Coronavirus (February 12, 2020)
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Guidance documents
For Health Professionals
- NEW! Infection prevention and control for COVID-19: Interim guidance for acute healthcare settings
- UPDATED! Recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines (Moderna section)
- Public health management of cases and contacts associated with COVID-19
- Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) resources and webinars
- College of Nurses of Ontario Practice Guideline: Refusing Assignments and Discontinuing Nursing Services
- Read this piece from the College of Nurses of Ontario "Risking fatigue by working long hours".
- National Nurses United created an online memorial to honour nurses around the world who have died during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Proper N95 Respirator Use for Respiratory Protection Preparedness