Mandatory immunization policies (not vaccination) for Ontario long-term care homes

On May 31, 2021, the Ontario Minister of Long-Term Care issued a directive under the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 requiring all long-term care (LTC) homes in Ontario to establish, implement and report on COVID-19 immunization policies. A copy of the directive can be found here.  

The directive requires the COVID-19 immunization policy at each LTC home to apply to all employees, as well as student placements and volunteers, regardless of the frequency and duration of their attendance at the home.

In addition to establishing and implementing a COVID-19 immunization policy, such policy must meet minimum requirements. Specifically, each Ontario LTC home must require their employees, student placements and volunteers to do one of the following:

  1. Provide proof of vaccination of each dose;
  2. Provide a documented medical reason from either a physician or registered nurse that sets out the following:
    1. The individual cannot be vaccinated against COVID-19; and
    2. The effective time period for the medical reason.; OR
  3. Complete an education program that addresses, at minimum, all of the following:
    1. How COVID-19 vaccines work;
    2. Vaccine safety related to the development of the COVID-19 vaccines;
    3. The benefits of vaccination against COVID-19;
    4. Risks of not being vaccinated against COVID-19; and
    5. Possible side effects of COVID-19 vaccination.

Where an individual has only received their first of a two-dose vaccination series and they have provided proof of their first dose, the individual will be considered to have met the requirements of providing proof of vaccination until they are eligible for a second dose. Once they receive their second dose, they will be required to provide such proof. The LTC home must have a process in place for following up with individuals awaiting their second dose.

If the effective time period for the medical reason has elapsed, the LTC home must ensure that within thirty (30) days of the medical reason expiring, the individual either provides proof of vaccination or completes the educational program referenced above.  

The consequences for failing to provide proof of vaccination, a medical reason or completion of an education program referenced above must be clearly stated in the COVID-19 immunization policy. The specific consequences for such failure must be in accordance with existing policies, collective agreements (if any) and any other applicable legislation.

Finally, the COVID-19 immunization policy must be communicated to all employees, student placements and volunteers and a copy of the policy (both paper and electronic) must be available to residents and their substitute-decision makers free of charge.

LTC homes will be required to track the implementation of their COVID-19 immunization policies, including overall employee immunization rates, and report this information to the Ministry of Long-Term Care on a monthly basis. However, information regarding each individual employee’s immunization status will not be shared with the province.

All Ontario LTC homes must have their COVID-19 immunization policies implemented by July 1, 2021.  An employee, student placement and volunteer at a LTC home has up to thirty (30) calendar days from May 31, 2021 or the first day they attend the home for the purposes of working, undertaking a student placement or volunteering to meet the policy requirements. 

For more information on this directive from the Ministry of Long-Term Care, please contact a member of our Dentons Employment and Labour group.

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Pamela Chan Ebejer

About Pamela Chan Ebejer

Pam Chan Ebejer is a partner in our Employment, Labour and Pensions group. Pam regularly provides strategic and legal advice to local, national and international employers in all areas of labour, employment and human rights law, including: employment contracts and policies; employment standards; discipline and termination; the duty to accommodate; workplace investigations; collective agreement negotiation, administration and arbitration; asset and share transactions; and workplace safety and insurance claims. She represents employers in wrongful and constructive dismissal civil actions, grievance arbitrations, human rights tribunal applications, and labour board proceedings.

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