Ontario's Chief Medical Officer Of Health Mandates COVID-19 Vaccination Policies For High-Risk Settings

Published date07 September 2021
Subject MatterFood, Drugs, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Coronavirus (COVID-19), Government Measures, Reporting and Compliance, Operational Impacts and Strategy
Law FirmFasken
AuthorMs Laurie Turner and Rachel Hung

On August 17, 2021, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health issued a Directive mandating COVID-19 vaccination policies for high-risk settings [PDF] (the "Directive"). The Directive was the 6th directive issued to health care providers and entities pursuant to section 77.7(1) of the Health Protection and Promotion Act (Ontario) (the "HPPA"). Under the Directive:

  • public hospitals;
  • service providers (within the meaning of the Home Care and Community Services Act 1994 (Ontario));1
  • local health integration networks (within the meaning of the Local Health System Integration Act 2006 (Ontario));2 and
  • ambulance services (within the meaning of the Ambulance Act (Ontario)),3

(the "Covered Organizations"), are required to have a COVID-19 vaccination policy ("Vaccination Policy") for employees, staff, contractors, students and volunteers ("Affected Individuals") that meets the requirements of the Directive (as summarized below), by September 7, 2021.

Pursuant to section 77.7(1) of the HPPA, the Chief Medical Officer of Health has the authority to issue a directive to any heath care provider or health care entity "respecting precautions and procedures to be followed to protect the health of persons anywhere in Ontario" where the Chief Medical Officer is of the opinion "that there exists or there may exist an immediate risk to the health of persons anywhere in Ontario". In issuing the Directive, Dr. Kieran Moore, the Chief Medical Officer of Heath, had regard to the "prevalence of the Delta variant of concern globally and within Ontario" and "the immediate risk to patients within hospitals and home and community care settings who are more vulnerable and medically complex than the general population, and therefore more susceptible to infection and severe outcomes from COVID-19".4

Required Precautions and Procedures

Covered Organizations must establish, implement, and ensure compliance with a Vaccination Policy that requires Affected Individuals to provide one of the following:

  1. evidence of full vaccination against COVID-19 ("Option 1");
  2. written evidence of a medical reason for not being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, provided by a physician or registered nurse in the extended class ("Option 2");5 or
  3. evidence of completion of an educational session regarding the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination (which session has been approved by the Covered Organization of which the individual is an employee staff member, contractor, volunteer or student, as the case may be...

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