Written on behalf of Peter McSherry
We had previously written about the Government of Quebec’s announcement that health care workers would be required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination and submit to testing.
This week, the Government of Ontario followed suit, announcing a plan that will require employers in the health and education sectors to implement policies requiring employees to be vaccinated or undergo testing.
Yesterday, the Minister of Health published a resource guide detailing how these requirements will work within the health sector.
What Is Required of Health Care Employers and Workers?
Pursuant to the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s Directive, all covered organizations must establish, implement and ensure compliance with a COVID-19 vaccination policy that requires its employees, staff, contractors, volunteers and students to provide:
- Proof of full vaccination against COVID-19, or
- Written proof of a medical reason provided by a physician or registered nurse that sets out a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated and the effective time for the medical reason.
Employees, staff, contractors, volunteers and students who do not provide proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 must submit to regular antigen point of care testing for COVID-19 and demonstrate a negative result. The organization may determine at what intervals the testing is conducted, but it must be at a minimum of once every seven days.
The government guide notes that there are likely to be very few medical exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccination other than for those individuals with severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The policy may also provide for the completion of an educational program relating to the vaccine for those who do not receive it, but they must still submit to testing.
Which Organizations Are Covered by the COVID-19 Vaccination Directive?
The directive applies to most employees, staff, contractors, volunteers and students in the following organizations:
- Public hospitals;
- Home and community care service providers, including home care, community support services, assisted living services and services for people with an acquired brain injury;
- Local health integration networks; and
- Ambulance services.
The guide states that the organization may also include other workers in its policy.
Further Information on the Directive
The relevant organizations must also maintain and disclose non-identifiable statistical information about the policy and its administration.
The guide also provides sample policies that may be used or adapted by health care organizations.
It should be noted that the directive and the guide set out minimum standards. Therefore, organizations may tailor their policy to provide for more than the minimum required.
Additionally, it should be observed that Ontario is not making vaccination a condition of employment per se, but is requiring organizations to implement a policy that requires workers to choose from the above options. Indeed, it will be up to the organization’s policy to set out the consequences for non-compliance in accordance with its human resources policies and collective agreements, as well as any applicable legislation, directives, and policies.
Canadian Government Announces Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination for Federal Employees
In addition to the above, the Canadian government also announced last week that Federal employees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of September. Like the above-discussed mandate above, those who are unable to be vaccinated will have to submit to mandatory screening and testing.
If you are an employee concerned about the legality of workplace policies, or an employer looking to ensure you stay compliant with health and safety regulations as they relate to COVID-19, contact the offices of Guelph Peter McSherry Employment Lawyer. We regularly assist employees with employment and labour issues. Contact us online or by phone at 519-821-5465 to schedule a consultation.