Long-term care home placement service providers now subject to COVID-19 vaccination policies

Alternatives to proof of full vaccination include documented medical reason, educational session

Long-term care home placement service providers now subject to COVID-19 vaccination policies

Local health integration networks operating as home and community care support services relating to the delivery of community services and long-term care home placement services should now establish, implement and ensure compliance with a COVID-19 vaccination policy.

On Aug. 17, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health issued Directive #6 under s. 77.7 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.7, which expanded the implementation of COVID-19 vaccination policies to certain high-risk settings, effective Sept. 7.

Since July 1, a directive by Ontario’s long-term care minister has required long-term care homes across the province to impose such vaccination policies on their staff, student placements and volunteers, said a blog post by Lisa Corrente, a partner in the litigation department and in the health law group at Torkin Manes LLP.

As for the new directive, it also applies to public hospitals under the Public Hospitals Act; service providers under the Home Care and Community Services Act, 1994; and ambulance services under the Ambulance Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. A.19.

The vaccination policy of a covered organization should require its employees, staff, contractors, volunteers and students to give proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. In lieu of such proof, these covered persons can give either written proof from a physician or registered nurse of a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated and providing the effective time-period for such medical reason, or can give proof that they completed an educational session, approved by the covered organization, regarding vaccination benefits before they refused vaccination for non-medical-related reasons.

The educational session needs to address the way COVID-19 vaccines work, vaccine safety relating to the vaccines’ development, benefits of vaccination, risks of lack of vaccination and potential vaccination side effects. A covered organization may remove this educational session as an option and may instead offer its own educational session that complies with the requirements.

Employees who are not fully vaccinated and who instead rely on one of the two other options should show their negative results to regular antigen point-of-care COVID-19 tests, which should be conducted by the covered organizations at least once every seven days, and should provide valid verification of such negative test results.

The covered organization should collect, maintain and disclose upon request to Ontario’s Ministry of Health certain statistical information, including the number of employees, staff, contractors, volunteers and students who gave proof of full vaccination; those who opted to give proof of a documented medical reason; and those who opted to undergo the educational session.

Other high-risk settings like licensed retirement homes, 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 will also be subject to these vaccination rules, the blog post noted .

The blog post reminded those operating these high-risk settings to consider their relevant obligations under the Human Rights Code, the Employment Standards Act, 2000, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the applicable privacy rules and collective agreement terms, in the case of unionized workplaces.

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