Ontario Mandates Vaccination Policies for High-Risk Settings – Updated August 20/21

On August 17, 2021, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, issued a directive mandating hospitals, ambulance services, and home & community care service providers to have a COVID-19 vaccination policy for employees, staff, contractors, students and volunteers.

These vaccination policies must be effective no later than September 7, 2021, and at a minimum will require affected individuals to provide proof of one of the following:

  • full vaccination against COVID-19;
  • a medical reason for not being vaccinated against COVID-19; or
  • completion of a COVID-19 vaccination educational session.

A medical reason for refusing vaccination must be provided by a physician or registered nurse and must set out (1) a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated, and (2) the effective time period for the medical reason.

Individuals who are not fully vaccinated for any other reason than a medical reason must complete an educational session about the benefits of vaccination before declining vaccination. At a minimum, the session must address: (1) how COVID-19 vaccines work; (2) vaccine safety related to COVID-19 vaccine development; (3) the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination, (4) risks of not being vaccinated; and (5) possible side effects of COVID-19 vaccination.

Organizations may decide to remove the option for completion of a COVID-19 vaccination educational session and require that all employees, staff, contractors, volunteers and students to either provide proof of full vaccination or proof of a medical reason for not being vaccinated. If this decision is made, the organization must make available to employees, staff, contractors, volunteers and students an educational session satisfying the requirements above.

Individuals who do not provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 will be required to undertake regular COVID-19 testing at a minimum of once every seven days. These employers will be required to track and report on the implementation of these policies to the Ontario Government. This is a similar to the requirements already in place for long-term care homes.

The Ontario Ministry of Education also intends to introduce a vaccination disclosure policy for employees of all publicly-funded school boards, private schools, and licensed child care settings for the 2021-22 school year; with testing requirements for employees who are not vaccinated. The Ontario Government is also working with public health units and publicly funded school boards to run voluntary vaccination clinics in or nearby schools.

Vaccination policies will also be implemented in other high-risk settings such as the following:

  • post-secondary institutions;
  • licensed retirement homes;
  • women’s shelters; and
  • congregate group homes and day programs for adults with developmental disabilities, children’s treatment centres and other services for children with special needs, and licensed children’s residential settings.

Ontario’s reopening will be put on hold, with capacity limits remaining at 100 people for outdoor social gatherings and up to 25 people indoors. Restaurants will have to maintain physical distancing measures between tables, retailers will have to ensure physical distancing in their shops, and gyms will remain at half capacity. Restrictions on theatres, cinemas, concerts, museums, casinos and bingo halls will also continue.  

Given that these are only announcements by the Government of Ontario, as soon as legislation or regulations are released, Mathews Dinsdale will provide updates on the details pertaining to these vaccination requirements.

This follows the announcement made by the Federal Government on August 13, 2021 regarding mandatory vaccinations for Federal Public Sector employees and the intention to mandate vaccinations for Federally regulated workplaces.  The main difference is that the Federal announcement does not appear to give non-vaccinated individuals a testing alternative. Our summary of that announcement can be found at, Federal Government Announces Mandatory Vaccinations for the Federal Public Service and Federally Regulated Sectors.

We will continue to update our clients with information as soon as it becomes available. If you have any questions about this topic, other COVID-19 related questions, or would like assistance with developing a
COVID-19 vaccination policy tailored to the needs of your workplace, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer, or refer to the Firm’s COVID-19 website resources.

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