April 16, 2021
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.
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
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: Thursday, April 15, 2021
ONA First Vice-President Cathryn Hoy, CEO Beverly Mathers and ONA President Vicki McKenna held Telephone Town Halls/Facebook Live on Thursday, April 15. These sessions covered the latest developments on redeployment, COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, vaccine rollouts, implications of the third wave, changes to Directives, PPE and an update on ONA’s judicial review application.
View the vaccine questions-and-answers document based on your questions from the January 13 Town Hall.
- March 22, 2021: Ontario Nurses’ Association Makes Recommendations To Fix Long-Term Care in Wake of COVID-19
- March 1, 2021: Ontario Nurses’ Association Launches Ad Campaign “As Pandemic Continues, Courageous Nurses Hold the Line”
- February 25, 2021: Ontario Nurses’ Association Files Judicial Review, Seeks Urgent Changes to Protect Nurses
- February 16, 2021: ONA Joins the Call for Paid Sick Leave for all Ontario Workers
- February 11, 2021: Ontario Nurses’ Association Calls for the Province to Adopt the Precautionary Principle as Quebec Takes Action
- January 25, 2021: An Open Letter to Premier Doug Ford from the Ontario Nurses’ Association: Mandate Precautions for Airborne Transmission
ONA in the News
- The Toronto Star (April 18, 2021) reports that severely ill COVID-19 patients are being hospitalized in Ontario in higher numbers than ever, as the province and health-care sector scramble to increase capacity through transferring patients to other hospitals, cancelling non-essential procedures and setting up field units. The provincial government has promised to add between 700 and 1,000 additional ICU beds. “It’s fine to add a bed, but not so much if you don’t have people that can care for the person in the bed,” says Vicki McKenna, president of the Ontario Nurses Association. She says there is already a shortage of nurses in hospital ICUs and adding more beds will only exacerbate the problem. “The nurses are going to be further stretched than they already are, and that takes a physical and emotional toll on people when they are placed in these situations,” she says.
- Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott has promised 350 new ICU beds by the end of the week (Toronto Star, April 12, 2021). However, as Elliott promised that every Ontarian who needs an ICU bed will get one, the health system has a record number of patients in the beds now – more than 600, double the level of four weeks ago. ONA President Vicki McKenna says that nurses should not be “parachuted” into the ICU role without proper support. “The government should have been ready with this two weeks ago,” she adds.
- ICU doctors say capacity has been stretched to the limit during this wave of the pandemic and they lack the staff to care for the patients they have (Global News National, April 10, 2021). Michael Garron Hospital ICU physician Michael Warner says that while Ontario has 2,300 ICU beds in theory, in practice, there are not nearly enough staff to run those beds. On Friday, the Ford government announced measures to redeploy nurses from other sectors to staff ICUs, though ONA President Vicki McKenna says it will be difficult to parachute people into the positions. She also notes that ONA is advocating that redeployment be on a volunteer basis and adds that proper training for the highly skilled positions must be provided.
- Many front-line nurses in long-term care have been traumatized by severe outbreaks in Ontario homes (National Post, March 31, 2021). Insufficient staffing and protective equipment have contributed to severe outbreaks that have left 60 per cent of nurses reporting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues. An ONA survey found 50.7 per cent of respondents experienced PTSD symptoms after working in nursing homes impacted by COVID-19. This increased to 60.8 per cent in homes with larger outbreaks. ONA President Vicki McKenna says this “wasn’t like anything they’d ever seen” and they “felt like they were on a battleground.” Respondents reported issues including insufficient access to proper PPE and improper guidance on using what equipment was available. Many front-line workers became ill which exacerbated existing staffing issues.
For the latest information, visit the Ontario government's COVID-19 webpage.
Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) COVID-19 Directives
MOH Coronavirus Situation Reports
April 19, 2021: MOH Coronavirus Situation Report #411
Click here to view previous MOH Coronavirus Situation Reports.
Ontario Health Memo
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
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