On August 24, 2021, the Ontario government amended O. Reg. 364/20: Rules for Areas at Step 3 and at the Roadmap Exit Step (the "Regulation") under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act to include certain obligations to comply with directions from health officials about COVID-19 vaccination policies.
The amendment to the Regulation requires that businesses open in Step 3 must operate in compliance with any "advice, recommendations and instructions" issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, or by a medical officer of health after consultation with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health regarding:
- The establishment, implementation or compliance with a COVID-19 vaccination policy; or
- The precautions and procedures that organizations must include in their COVID-19 vaccination policy.
As of August 31, 2021, medical officers of health in the following public health units have given some form of "advice, recommendation or instruction" about the implementation of workplace vaccination policies:
- Halton Region
- Brant County
- Sudbury & Districts
- Durham Region
- Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District
- Simcoe Muskoka District
- Grey Bruce
What Does This Mean?
This means that provincially-regulated employers with employees in these public health units should implement vaccination policies. This doesn't necessarily mean Ontario employers must have a mandatory vaccination policy – only that they must have a vaccination policy. In determining the nature and contents of a vaccination policy, employers can consult our earlier list of things to consider when creating and implementing a workplace vaccine policy.
Employers throughout Ontario will want to be mindful of ongoing communications from public health regarding the nature of vaccination policies and the public health units in which they should be implemented – and be prepared to act quickly to maintain compliance.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.