COVID-19 Updates

April 6, 2020

ONA is closely monitoring this situation, and has initiated a special task force to monitor and respond to the threat of the emerging 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 COVIDQuestions@ona.org.

We are posting any COVID-19 discounts and promotional offers for health-care workers to our main Discounts page. Click here to view.

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ONA Telephone Town Halls

Telephone Town Halls: Wednesday, April 15, 2020

On Wednesday, April 15, ONA will hold Telephone Town Halls in two sessions: from 4:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. (for Regions 1, 2 and 5) and from 7:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. (for Regions 3 and 4). Members will receive a call to join the Town Hall at 4:45 p.m. if you are in ONA Regions 1, 2 and 5. For members who are in Regions 3 or 4, you will receive a call at 7:15 p.m. You need to accept the call to connect to it. If you are not able to pick up the call, you will receive a voicemail with a number for you to use to connect yourself to the town hall. In addition, the Town Halls will be on Facebook Audio Live. You can visit www.facebook.com/ontarionurses at 4:45 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. to listen in and hear answers to some of your questions.

Telephone Town Halls: Wednesday, April 1, 2020

ONA held one-hour telephone town halls for members on Wednesday, April 1 at two times, 5 p.m. (Regions 1, 2, 5) and 7 p.m. (Regions 3, 4,). These town halls were held to discuss emerging information related to COVID-19. Listen to the 5 p.m. session here. Listen to the 7 p.m. session here.

Check back soon for updated COVID-19 Questions and Answers based on this town hall.

Reusing Masks

We are aware that Ontario Health has advised employers to collect used N95 and surgical masks and to store these in biohazard bags for potential reprocessing. Given the global shortage of PPE, there is emerging evidence that says there maybe various methods of retaining, sterilizing, reprocessing and reusing PPE, including N95 respirators. Any health-care worker, who is placing an N95 into a container, for potential reuse, should be careful not to be contaminated. At this time, there is no certainty regarding scientific evidence that supports reusing N95 masks. We have advised government that, until there is clear evidence and science on safety, ONA will not consider these options without clear scientific evidence that these masks meet the standards for safe use in health-care settings.

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 News and Media

In the News

  • Southwestern Ontario is days away from running out of masks that protect health-care workers from the spread of COVID-19 (CBC News, April 3, 2020). ONA told its members the region will run out of surgical masks and face shields in five days.
  • Health-care providers are making a desperate plea to have N95 masks reserved for them, as they are the ones who need the masks the most (YorkRegion.com, April 3, 2020). Many Ontario hospitals have been rationing personal protective equipment as their supplies dwindle. ONA President Vicki McKenna said there are even reports of masks stolen from locked cupboards.
  • All three hospitals in Oxford County have put out a call for donations of personal protective equipment (Woodstock Sentinel-Review, March 31, 2020). On Monday, ONA, the chief medical officer of health, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour released a joint statement on PPE.
  • The provincial government has reached a deal with ONA that nurses on the front lines will have access to “appropriate health and safety control measures” when assessing patients, including N95 masks if necessary (Toronto Star and inbrampton.com, March 30, 2020).
  • Nurses are refusing front-line work due to a shortage of proper personal protective equipment at London Health Sciences Centre (London Free Press and CBC News, March 30, 2020). ONA Local 100 President James Murray said the hospital is implementing new measures to conserve disposable masks including locking up the supply and tracking use.
  • Some Ontario nurses are worried they will not be protected from COVID-19 with the personal protective equipment they are being provided (The Kingston Whig Standard, March 27, 2020). ONA is asking hospitals and policy-makers to "err on the side of caution" when equipping front-line health-care workers who are exposed to COVID-19 patients.
  • Residents in the Barrelyards community in Waterloo are finding ways to show support for those on the front lines of COVID-19 (Waterloo Chronicle, March 27, 2020). Lori Pappas, a nurse at St. Mary's General Hospital, said it is great to see the community come together and know that they have your back. On March 21, ONA posted a news release explaining that more than 50 nurses were potentially exposed to COVID-19.

Government Information and Resources

For the latest information, visit the Ontario government's COVID-19 webpage.

Visit the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 guidance page for the health sector. Click here to view these guidance documents in French.

Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) COVID-19 Directives:

MOH Coronavirus Situation Reports:

April 8, 2020: MOH Coronavirus Situation Report #74

Click here to view previous MOH Coronavirus Situation Reports.

COVID-19 Command Table Updates:

April 8, 2020: Update on COVID-19 Preparations and Actions

Click here to view previous Command Table Updates.

COVID-19 Collaboration Table Summaries:

April 2, 2020: Update on COVID-19 Preparations and Actions

March 19, 2020: Update on COVID-19 Preparations and Actions

Government Communications

April 8, 2020: COVID-19 Provincial Testing Guidance Update

April 5, 2020: Personal Protective Equipment (Click here for French)

April 2, 2020: COVID-19 Guidance: Use of Hotels and Retirement Homes

March 27, 2020: COVID-19 Guidance: Information on the Use of N95 Filtering Facepiece respirators beyond the manufacturer-designated shelf life

March 26, 2020: General approval under subsection 4(2) of the Public Hospitals Act for COVID-19 capacity expansion (Click here for French)

March 25, 2020: Public health management of cases and contacts of COVID-19 in Ontario and  Quick Reference Public Health Guidance on Testing and Clearing Cases

March 23, 2020: FAQs on Subsection 56(1) Class Exemption for Patients, Practitioners and Pharmacists Prescribing and Providing Controlled Substances in Canada during the Coronavirus Pandemic

March 20, 2020: Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) Program Changes and Guidance for Dispensers during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

March 19, 2020: Visitors at Acute Care Settings

March 19, 2020: ACES/eCTAS COVID-19 surveillance and Improving COVID-19 Surveillance through the ACES/eCTAS Systems

March 19, 2020: Managing Health Worker Illness and Return to Work COVID-19

March 18, 2020: Supporting Expansion of Virtual Home Care Delivery

March 17, 2020: The Provincial Transfer Authorization Centre (PTAC) Updated requirements during the current Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

March 13, 2020: Long-Term Care Homes, Retirement Homes, Supportive Housing, Hospices and other congregate care settings - Visitors

March 12, 2020: Enhanced Public Health Measures

March 9, 2020: Long-Term Care Homes Sector COVID-19 Updates

January 23, 2020: Letter from CMOH Dr. Barbara Yaffe

January 10, 2020: Letter from Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) Dr. Barbara Yaffe

Government Resources

  • 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

News and Resources for Health-Care Professionals


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