COVID-19 Guidance Updates and Government Vaccination Recommendations

This article will highlight key changes from the Ministry of Health (MOH) that may impact employers in congregate care settings, including developmental services sector agencies. As discussed in our biweekly webinars, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) has indicated that agencies are expected to comply with MOH guidance documents. The MOH’s latest guidance document, Long-Term Care Homes, Retirement Homes, and Other Congregate Living Settings for Public Health Units, includes some key changes that may impact operations in congregate living settings in the developmental services sector.

Key Changes to the Guidelines:

Active Screening

The latest guidance document removed the recommendation for active screening of all staff, students, volunteers, essential and general visitors, as well as residents that are returning to the home after an absence. However, the MOH still requires active screening for individuals who are symptomatic or diagnosed with COVID-19.

Masking Recommendations

The MOH has strengthened its existing recommendation for residents, caregivers, clients and visitors to wear a mask. In the latest guidance document, it recommends masking whenever indoors. However, it has also dropped the requirement for visitors to mask outdoors when in close proximity to individuals who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19.

Daily Temperature Checks

Daily temperature checks are now only required for residents who present symptoms of COVID-19, have close contacts with individuals who have COVID-19, or have confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Physical Distancing

The MOH has removed physical distancing recommendations in its latest guidance document. Previous guidance documents for congregate living encouraged individuals to avoid crowded places, close-contact settings, and confined spaces with poor ventilation.

Vaccination Policies Recommendations

The Ontario government has released guidance regarding vaccination policies for long-term care homes and residential homes. In the guidance, it asks homes that still require staff vaccinations to reconsider these requirements. In the same document, however, the province emphasized that employers may still require vaccination for staff if desired, and reiterated that vaccination is the most effective way to protect everyone from the spread of COVID-19.

PooranLaw will continue to monitor the ongoing legal developments and updates to the ministry guidelines and their impact on the DS sector.  In the meantime, if you require legal assistance, we encourage you to reach out to your regular PooranLaw lawyer, or any member of our team.

Note: This article provides general information only and does not constitute, and should not be relied upon as, legal advice or opinion. PooranLaw Professional Corporation holds the copyright to this article and the article and its contents may not be copied or reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, without the express permission of PooranLaw Professional Corporation.