Covid-19 Updates

Ontario Releasing Guidance to Support Proof of Vaccination Policy

Province Continues to Expand Third Dose Eligibility for Those at Highest Risk of COVID-19

As the province continues to respond to the fourth wave of the pandemic driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant, the government is further protecting Ontarians through continued actions that encourage every eligible person to get vaccinated and help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Today the government released the regulations and guidance for businesses and organizations to support them in implementing proof of vaccination requirements, which take effect on September 22, 2021. Requiring proof of vaccination will help increase vaccination rates, protect individuals in higher-risk indoor settings, and keep businesses open.

In advance of September 22, all Ontarians can print or download their vaccination receipt from the provincial booking portal. The Ministry is working on additional supports and services to assist Ontario residents who need help obtaining proof of vaccination, including requesting a copy be sent by mail. Those who need support obtaining a copy of their vaccination receipt including those who do not have access to a computer or printer can call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900.

Ontario is developing an enhanced vaccine certificate with a unique QR code to make it safer, more secure and convenient to show that you have been vaccinated, when required to do so. The enhanced vaccine certificate and verification app will be available by October 22, 2021. Ontario’s proof of vaccination guidance will be updated to reflect the new processes.

The proof of vaccination policy has resulted in a marked increase in vaccination rates. Between September 1 and September 8, 2021, the seven-day average for first doses administered increased by more than 29 per cent, from over 11,400 doses to over 14,700 doses. During that time, more than 90,000 first doses and 102,000 second doses were administered in Ontario to individuals aged 18 to 59.

To further increase vaccine uptake, the province is continuing its last mile strategy to reach eligible individuals who have yet to receive a first or second dose. This includes:

  • The provincial call centre booking or rebooking more than 135,000 appointments;
  • The GO-VAXX bus administering more than 3,700 doses with 50 per cent being first doses, since launching on August 7, 2021;
  • Setting up a Provincial Vaccine Confidence Line that individuals can call to speak with an experienced agent or health specialist about COVID-19 vaccine questions; and
  • Supporting more than 550 vaccination clinics in or nearby elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools that are currently operational or planned for the near future.

To further protect those who face the highest risk from COVID-19 and the Delta variant, the government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health is following the evidence and recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and will begin offering third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to additional groups, such as individuals with moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency, individuals receiving active treatment for significantly immunosuppressive conditions and those with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Locations and timing for third doses will vary by public health unit and high-risk population based on local planning and considerations.

Ottawa Public Health releases guide to support workplace vaccination policies

 Ottawa Public Health strongly recommends all Ottawa employers implement workplace vaccination policies to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. To support employers, Ottawa Public Health today released guidance for how to develop and implement workplace vaccination policies as part of their COVID-19 safety planning. 

Businesses and organizations have a responsibility to maintain a safe work environment for employees and volunteers. Supporting employees and volunteers to get fully vaccinated is the best way to help protect them from the risks of COVID-19, prevent outbreaks and build confidence in the workplace as we face a resurgence in our community driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant.

This new Guide on How to Create a Workplace Vaccination Policy for employers provides key considerations for the development and implementation of their own workplace vaccination policies. Ottawa Public Health has used a similar approach for its workplace vaccination policy.

This guide does not provide legal advice and should not be relied on or treated as legal advice. Workplace vaccination policies should be in writing and adhere to any applicable occupational health safety laws, privacy laws, human rights laws, employment standards legislation, and or collective agreements. High-risk settings that are mandated by the Government of Ontario to have workplace vaccination policies in place must adhere to provincial requirements. Workplace vaccination policies do not need to be submitted to Ottawa Public Health.

Ottawa Public Health continues to work with the Ottawa business community to ensure employers and employees have access to information about the benefits of vaccination and where to get vaccinated. Employers are strongly encouraged to allow employees time off from work to access a COVID-19 vaccine. For further resources, visit Ottawa Public Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit for Employers

Workplaces, community organizations, places of worship and other groups can contact Ottawa Public Health to request a mobile vaccination clinic to administer first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on-site, at their own location. Please visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca to request a mobile vaccination team.

For more information on Ottawa Public Health programs and services, visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca. You can also connect with us through FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Ontario Makes COVID-19 Vaccination Policies Mandatory for High-Risk Settings

Province to Begin Offering Third Doses of COVID-19 Vaccines to Most Vulnerable Ontarians

In response to evolving data around the transmissibility of the Delta variant and based on the recent experiences of other jurisdictions, the government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is taking action to increase protection for our most vulnerable, including frail seniors, immunocompromised individuals and young children who are not yet eligible for vaccination. This includes making COVID-19 vaccination policies mandatory in high-risk settings, pausing the province’s exit from the Roadmap to Reopen and providing third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable populations. The government is also expanding eligibility for the Pfizer vaccine to children born in 2009 or earlier.

To protect vulnerable patients and staff in settings where the risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 and the Delta variant is higher, the Chief Medical Officer of Health has issued a directive mandating hospitals and home and community care service providers to have a COVID-19 vaccination policy for employees, staff, contractors, students and volunteers, and for ambulance services to have a COVID-19 vaccination policy for paramedics. The vaccination policy must be effective no later than September 7, 2021, and at a minimum will require these individuals to provide proof of one of three things:

  • Full vaccination against COVID-19;
  • A medical reason for not being vaccinated against COVID-19; or
  • Completion of a COVID-19 vaccination educational session.

Individuals who do not provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 will be required to undertake regular antigen testing. These settings will be required to track and report on the implementation of their policies to the provincial government. This is similar to the vaccination policy requirements currently in place for long-term care homes.

“While Ontario remains a leading jurisdiction for first and second doses administered and we have the infrastructure in place to manage outbreaks, the Delta variant is highly transmissible and the experience of other jurisdictions shows we must remain vigilant as we head into the fall,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “By taking additional measures in high-risk settings we will further protect our most vulnerable, safeguard hospital capacity, ensure a safe return to school and keep Ontario running.”

To support the return to school plan, the Ministry of Education intends to introduce a vaccination disclosure policy for all publicly-funded school board employees, and staff in private schools as well as for all staff in licensed child care settings for the 2021-22 school year, with rapid antigen testing requirements for staff who are not immunized against COVID-19. The Ontario government is also working with public health units and publicly funded school boards to run voluntary vaccination clinics in or nearby schools to make vaccines even more convenient and accessible for eligible students, their families, educators and school staff returning to school this fall.

Vaccination policies will also be implemented in other higher-risk settings such as:

  • 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.

“With the support of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, our government is taking action to make schools as safe as possible,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “Our plan will protect our schools, ensure rapid speed with contact tracing, all with the intention of keeping them open for the benefit of Ontario students.”

As an additional measure to continue protecting Ontario’s most vulnerable, based on the recommendation of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, the province will begin offering third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to those at highest-risk, providing them with an extra layer of protection against the Delta variant. This includes:

  • Transplant recipients (including solid organ transplant and hematopoietic stem cell transplants);
  • Patients with hematological cancers (examples include lymphoma, myeloma, leukemia) on active treatment (chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy);
  • Recipients of an anti-CD20 agent (e.g. rituximab, ocrelizumab, ofatumumab); and
  • Residents of high-risk congregate settings including long-term care homes, higher-risk licensed retirement homes and First Nations elder care lodges.

Locations and timing for third doses will vary by public health unit and high-risk population based on local planning and considerations, with some beginning as early as this week where opportunities exist.

In addition, to further support a safer return to school by ensuring more children and youth can benefit from the protection offered by the vaccine, the province will extend eligibility to the Pfizer vaccine to children born in 2009. Ontario has closely monitored data from Alberta and British Columbia in making this decision, and these provinces have offered the Pfizer vaccine to youth born in 2009 for several months with no risks identified. Starting on Wednesday, August 18, 2021, all children turning 12 years old before the end of 2021 will be eligible to receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and can book their appointment through the provincial booking system, through their public health unit, or pharmacies, or can walk-in to vaccination clinics across the province.

“Keeping a low rate of infection in our communities and protecting our most vulnerable is how we can keep our schools, our businesses and our social settings as safe as possible while minimizing disruption,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “To provide the best protection to each individual while learning to live with the virus, we are taking action by requiring individuals who work in higher-risk settings to be fully vaccinated, by providing a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to certain groups who have a decreased immune response and by expanding the eligibility to the children born in 2009 or earlier.”

While the province has reached the exciting milestone of more than 81 per cent of Ontarians aged 12 and over having received a first dose, and is expected to reach its target of 75 per cent vaccinated with a second dose later this month, out of an abundance of caution the government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is pausing the exit from the Roadmap to Reopen. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts will continue to monitor the data to determine when it is safe to exit the Roadmap and lift the majority of public health and workplace safety measures currently in place.


Ontario Working with Public Health Units to Run COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics in Schools

School Vaccination Program Will Help Province Combat Delta Variant As Students Return to Class this Fall.

The Ontario government is working with public health units and publicly funded school boards to plan and host vaccination clinics in or nearby schools to continue to fight COVID-19. Clinics are expected to run before school starts and during the first few weeks of school. The program is part of the province’s last mile strategy to target those who have yet to receive a first or second dose and will provide accessible and convenient access to vaccines for eligible students and their families, as well as educators and school staff who are returning to school this fall.

While COVID-19 vaccination continues to be voluntary for anyone eligible in Ontario, health experts encourage anyone who is able to get the vaccine as a highly effective tool in the fight against COVID-19 and its variants.

The education sector, and public health units, have played a critical role in getting youth vaccinated, and keeping students and families safe during this historic pandemic. As Ontario continues with its vaccination program and rollout, ensuring all eligible Ontarians who wish to receive the vaccine can get one will ensure schools remain open for in-person learning for the full school year.

“We have made tremendous progress getting students, staff and their families vaccinated – they are critical to protecting schools and keeping our communities safe,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “As part of the last mile campaign to reach as many students and staff as possible and to keep schools as safe as possible, we are requiring school boards and public health units to roll out clinics in or close to schools. By making vaccines more accessible, and with a cautious reopening in September following the expert advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, we will further bolster our fight against COVID-19 and variants.”

As of August 15, more than 69 per cent of youth aged 12 to17 have received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 56 per cent have received a second dose. School-focused vaccination clinics will support increased uptake for eligible students, as well as education staff, and a safer return to school in the fall.

“It is great news that our students are returning to school this fall, and that kids and youth will finally be together with their classmates to learn and get back to the activities they love,” said Dr. Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “This is crucially important for their mental, physical and social wellbeing. Having vaccination clinics at our schools will make it more convenient for students to receive their vaccine in a familiar and comfortable environment and will help to ensure a safer and sustained reopening of our schools.”

With respect to consent at school-focused clinics, COVID-19 vaccines will only be provided if informed consent is received from the individual, including eligible students, and as long as they have the capability to make this decision. Health care providers, the school, and families must respect a young person’s decision regarding vaccination. Parents and guardians are encouraged to discuss vaccination with their children prior to attending a school vaccination clinic.

All vaccines delivered as part of Ontario’s vaccine rollout provide high levels of effectiveness against hospitalization and death from COVID-19 and its variants, including the Delta variant. During July 2021, unvaccinated individuals were approximately eight times more likely to get infected with COVID-19 compared to those who were fully vaccinated.

Government extends COVID-19 benefits and business supports to support stronger economic recovery

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, the Government of Canada continues to adapt its support to deliver support to those who need it, heal the wounds of the pandemic recession, and build a strong recovery that leaves no one behind.

Today, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, and the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, announced the extension of crucial COVID-19 support measures for Canadians and Canadian businesses in recognition that uneven economic reopening across regions and sectors means workers and businesses continue to need support. These extensions include:

  • Extending the eligibility period for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support until October 23, 2021, and increasing the rate of support employers and organizations can receive during the period between August 29 and September 25, 2021.
  • Extending the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB), and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) until October 23, 2021.
  • Increasing the maximum number of weeks available for the CRB, by an additional four weeks, to a total of 54 weeks, at a rate of $300 per week, and ensuring it is available to those who have exhausted their employment insurance (EI) benefits.

As our recovery gets underway, workers and businesses in certain regions and sectors continue to need support. In the April federal budget, the government recognized that the economic and public health situation remained uncertain and made sure it had the flexibility to extend supports further into the fall as the public health situation warranted. By moving forward on these extensions, the government is ensuring that businesses – including those in hard-hit sectors like tourism, hospitality, arts, and entertainment – can continue to get the support they need so they can invest in their recovery and long-term prosperity.

In addition, the government is proposing to offer businesses greater flexibility when calculating the revenue decline used to determine eligibility for the wage and rent subsidy programs and the new Canada Recovery Hiring Program. The government is also releasing draft legislation that provides further clarity on previously announced changes to the wage subsidy for furloughed employees.

More details on the extension and these proposed changes to COVID business supports are available in the backgrounder associated with today’s announcement.

Government extends COVID-19 benefits and business supports to support stronger economic recovery

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, the Government of Canada continues to adapt its support to deliver support to those who need it, heal the wounds of the pandemic recession, and build a strong recovery that leaves no one behind.

Today, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, and the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, announced the extension of crucial COVID-19 support measures for Canadians and Canadian businesses in recognition that uneven economic reopening across regions and sectors means workers and businesses continue to need support. These extensions include:

  • Extending the eligibility period for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support until October 23, 2021, and increasing the rate of support employers and organizations can receive during the period between August 29 and September 25, 2021.
  • Extending the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB), and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) until October 23, 2021.
  • Increasing the maximum number of weeks available for the CRB, by an additional four weeks, to a total of 54 weeks, at a rate of $300 per week, and ensuring it is available to those who have exhausted their employment insurance (EI) benefits.

As our recovery gets underway, workers and businesses in certain regions and sectors continue to need support. In the April federal budget, the government recognized that the economic and public health situation remained uncertain and made sure it had the flexibility to extend supports further into the fall as the public health situation warranted. By moving forward on these extensions, the government is ensuring that businesses – including those in hard-hit sectors like tourism, hospitality, arts, and entertainment – can continue to get the support they need so they can invest in their recovery and long-term prosperity.

In addition, the government is proposing to offer businesses greater flexibility when calculating the revenue decline used to determine eligibility for the wage and rent subsidy programs and the new Canada Recovery Hiring Program. The government is also releasing draft legislation that provides further clarity on previously announced changes to the wage subsidy for furloughed employees.

More details on the extension and these proposed changes to COVID business supports are available in the backgrounder associated with today’s announcement.