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COVID-19 (January 14)

The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is immediately declaring a second provincial emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA).

View the Ontario government press release here.

ODHA continues to monitor the pandemic closely, participating in weekly provincial briefings. Regulated health professionals are included as essential services, and dental hygienists along with other regulated health professionals can continue to practise.

The Ministry of Health in Ontario recently updated COVID-19 Guidance for Prioritizing Health-Care Workers for COVID-19 Vaccination to include oral health professionals as primary priorities.

As communicated in previous updates, ODHA has been advocating to the provincial government for vaccine priority access for Ontario dental hygienists, including sending letters to Minister Christine Elliott and Minister Sylvia Jones, outlining the generally increased risks of dental hygienists engaging in higher exposure risk procedures in the provision of health care. The vaccine is not mandatory, rather the vaccine will be made available to dental hygienists wishing to be vaccinated.

The Ontario government has released an Ethical Framework for COVID-19 vaccine distribution which was developed in partnership with the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force to guide further vaccine prioritization and distribution across the province. The province continues to vaccinate vulnerable populations and those who care for them through Phase One of its three-phase implementation plan as additional vaccines become available.

With several risk factors driving the transmission of COVID-19, close contact is the highest risk. Limiting these risks is critical to keeping Ontario open and safe. It’s imperative to understand the risks of gatherings in close contact in enclosed/indoor spaces to mitigate risk and prevent additional lockdown measures.

The Ontario government’s updated framework outlines the adjusting and tightening of public health measures in each stage. This colour-coded framework considers epidemiology, health system capacity and public health system capacity and outlines preventive measures for each sector. The goal is to have every public health unit in the “Prevent” green level.

In addition to the provincial health measures, some municipalities and local medical officers of health have added their own regional restrictions or requirements. Check your local public health unit for details.

The Ontario government continues to encourage all health care practitioners to personally download and activate the COVID app and to encourage their patients and clients to do so as well.  The app is available for both IOS and android and is an integral component of controlling the pandemic.

Staying safe in practice takes more than following infection prevention and control guidelines when treating clients. Follow Public Health Ontario guidance in the workplace, including maintaining social distance and using face coverings when social distancing is a challenge. It’s equally important to remain vigilant in times before and in-between clients, when interacting with colleagues, and during break periods. It’s during these times, when not focusing on client care, an individual may potentially let their guard down and become vulnerable. ODHA wants you and your workplace to remain safe and healthy.

For the most current provincial updates, click here. 

You can read the Ontario government’s fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19.

Public Health Ontario released a paper on COVID-19 in Dental Care Settings (July 30, 2020). Further clarification was provided in correspondence from the Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee (PIDAC).  

ODHA continues to encourage the regulatory bodies to find common ground on practice guidelines and for employers and employees to engage in discussions to facilitate a healthy and safe workplace – for all staff and patients/clients.  ODHA understands this is an incredibly stressful and anxious time for many.  ODHA is also engaged in discussions with government.

ODHA understands the anxieties you may be experiencing, and we are committed to do what is in our capacity to help Ontario dental hygienists work in a safe environment and reconnect with clients and colleagues. We continue to encourage you to use your member benefit Legal-Line for FREE legal advice.

For those who have not yet returned to work, recent changes to the Employment Insurance program may enable a transition to EI from the CERB program.  In addition, there are three new programs to assist.  They include:

Canada Recovery Benefit providing $500 weekly for 26 weeks this benefit is for individuals (including those self-employed) whose income has been reduced by at least 50%. 

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit providing $500 per week for up to two weeks for Canadians who are sick or in self-isolation due to COVID-19

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit providing $500 per week for no more than 26 weeks when someone is forced to remain at home to care for:

  • a child or family member who is ill or in quarantine, or
  • a child under 12 or family member normally at school, daycare or a care home that is closed due to COVID-19.

 

ODHA – We’re Here for You

Service to our members is of paramount importance.  ODHA has been providing ongoing email broadcasts on the coronavirus situation and through this dedicated COVID-19 page on the ODHA website. The frequency of page updates is determined by changes in the progress of the pandemic.  Resources will be added as information is provided to the ODHA office.

ODHA will continue to keep members updated through email broadcasts (which will also be posted) and current information added to the ODHA website. We encourage you to check the added resources link for new and emerging information. At a time when many will take advantage of the uncertainty, ODHA will continue to provide evidence-informed and balanced advice and information.

For those who have joined ODHA or renewed their membership for 2020/2021, we sincerely thank you for your support.  For those who have not yet joined or renewed – its not too late and we invite you to add your voice to the collective voice for advancing the profession in the province where you practice.

 

COVID-19 Email Updates

COVID-19 Additional Resources