COVID-19 Updates

December 21, 2021

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

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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ONA Heroes

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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.

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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.

Click here to listen to the 5:30 p.m. town hall.

Click here to listen to the 7:30 p.m. town hall.

Questions and Answers

ONA Media

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.”

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

Long-Term Care Sector Updates

Documents related to "Enhanced Measures for Long-Term Care Homes" guidance - December 2021:

MOH Coronavirus Situation Reports

June 9, 2022: MOH Coronavirus Situation Report #695

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

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Guidance documents

For communities

For Health Professionals

Other resources


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