COVID-19 Updates

January 13, 2020

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Vaccine Information Town Halls ONA News and Media
Government Updates and Guidance Other Resources

Send your message and tell the Ontario government to protect patients, residents and clients and the valued registered nurses and health-care professionals that care for them.

Tell the Ontario government to support health-care professionals who must have access to proper PPE.

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 COVIDQuestions@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.

Health and Safety Checklist for Redeployment

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

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Telephone Town Halls: Wednesday, January 13, 2021

We held Telephone Town Hall/Facebook Live sessions on Wednesday, January 13 to discuss the vaccine and answer any vaccine questions that you may have. If you missed the town halls, select a session below for the recording.

Listen to the 5:30 PM town hall.

Listen to the 7:30 PM town hall.

View questions-and-answers document based on your questions from the town halls.

ONA Media

ONA in the News

  • ONA President Vicki McKenna has written an opinion editorial (Toronto Star, January 11, 2021) in which she writes that ONA is “appalled” that Ontario Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton has rejected the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission’s request for an extension to its investigation. “It is clear that the commission has completed extensive work to date,” she writes. “However, with the second wave underway and the volumes of information that the commission continues to receive, there is much more work to be done to ensure a fulsome report and recommendations.” McKenna writes that while the minister and her cabinet colleagues, as well as the premier, continue to say they want to fix the long-standing issues in LTC, “their actions do not reflect this.” McKenna suggests that the minister grant the extension request, provide all critical information the commission needs and act on the interim recommendations the commission has already made.
  • Long-term care advocates are calling on the federal government to take a more active role in addressing Canada’s long-term care crisis (Toronto Star, January 8, 2021). ONA President Vicki McKenna says Ottawa has “a very big role to play in setting standards and expectations and accountability” when it comes to the taxpayer money it sends to the provinces for health care. “At the federal level, I think this has to be a rights issue, and the federal government needs to spell that out,” she says. “Just like we have a Charter of rights and freedoms, we need a charter of rights for residents in long-term care.” McKenna says she’s frustrated there hasn’t been more movement on the issue since the federal government brought it up last fall. “Where’s the leadership to move it forward? Doing something like this is courageous in my view, because it’s different, and right now long-term care is on everybody’s radar right across the country.”
  • ONA Local 100 Bargaining Unit President James Gibbons says the actions of LHSC CEO, Dr. Paul Woods, reflect a “dangerous double standard” (CBC, January 9, 2021). "Our nurses have been restricted from getting together with their loved ones over the holidays, but I guess those rules don't apply to Mr. Woods,” he says. London-West MPP Peggy Sattler says Woods’s actions make the public question the importance of following COVID-19 restrictions. "We have people who are in positions of leadership who are telling the public how important it is not to travel outside of the province and adhere to the guidelines and yet they are not applying those same rules to themselves."
  • The St. Catharines Standard (January 6, 2021) reports that Niagara Health hospital workers feel their sacrifices have been undermined by their boss. Dr. Tom Stewart, CEO of Niagara Health and St. Joseph’s Healthcare, spent weeks on vacation in the Dominican Republic. Ontario Nurses’ Association president Vicki McKenna says the nurses she represents are being required to make sacrifices. “In the first wave, hospitals were paying the wages of our nurses who had to self-isolate, then at some point, they stopped,” McKenna says. “Currently, some employers are paying and some are not. This government needs to step up and ensure employers do the right thing — pay their staff who are exposed to COVID-19 and subsequently must self-isolate.” McKenna says it is “disturbing to see reports of prominent politicians and at least one hospital leader opting to knowingly break the guidelines that the majority of Ontarians are following. While we certainly understand the need for a break — and our front-line registered nurses and health-care professionals are themselves exhausted following many months of providing care for their patients, residents and clients — we remind everyone to follow the guidelines and travel only if the need is essential.”

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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.

MOH Coronavirus Situation Reports

January 19, 2021: MOH Coronavirus Situation Report #348

Click here to view previous MOH Coronavirus Situation Reports.

COVID-19 Command Table Updates

Click here to view all Provincial Command Table Memorandums.

COVID-19 Collaboration Table Summaries

Government Orders

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

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

Amended documents relating to the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020

Government Resources

Other Resources

  • National Nurses United created an online memorial to honour nurses around the world who have died during the COVID-19 crisis.

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