COVID-19 Updates

April 16, 2021

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Vaccine Information Town Halls ONA News and Media
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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: 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.

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

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

View the vaccine questions-and-answers document based on your questions from the January 13 Town Hall.

ONA Media

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.

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

MOH Coronavirus Situation Reports

April 19, 2021: MOH Coronavirus Situation Report #411

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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