Jukasa News Update – Thursday, September 2, 2021
Ontario is the fourth Canadian province to announce residents will have to show proof of vaccination against the coronavirus to enter restaurants, theaters, gyms and other indoor public venues.
Premier Doug Ford says the vaccination certificate program will take effect Sept. 22.
Initially, residents will show a PDF or printout of the vaccination receipt they received when they got their shots, along with a government-issued piece of ID such as a photo health card or driver’s license.
The province is expected to launch a system in late October that will send everyone a QR code to accompany their vaccination receipt. It will launch an app that will allow service providers to scan the QR codes as proof of vaccination.
British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba have also implemented some form of vaccine certificate program.
Ontario has issued new guidance for post-secondary institutions that lifts distancing and capacity rules for most classrooms.
The memo sent out to colleges and universities shows staff and students will still have to wear masks indoors.
It marks a shift from current legislation — which will be amended — that caps indoor classroom capacity at either 50 per cent or 1,000 students, and mandates physical distancing.
But the province is sticking with the language in the existing regulations when it comes to outdoor learning, which sets the capacity of outdoor instructional space at 75 per cent or 15,000 people.
The memo from the deputy minister of colleges and universities also says schools must have a vaccination policy in place on or before Sept. 7.
The provincial guidance is already facing pushback from a group that represents faculty unions.
The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations says lifting class size limits puts students and instructors at greater risk of COVID-19, even with vaccination policies in place.
Ontario will once again require residents to renew driver’s licences, ID cards and licence plate stickers that were due to expire during the pandemic.
The province lifted renewal requirements when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold last March, but is now reinstating them.
Residents have until Feb. 28, 2022 to renew the documents, which also include health cards and accessible parking permits.
The province will also temporarily allow people to renew their driver’s licences online, instead of requiring they do so in person.
Heavy commercial vehicle owners will need to renew their documentation by Dec. 31 this year and novice drivers with class G1, G2, M1 or M2 on their licence will have until Dec. 31, 2022 to requalify or upgrade their identification.
The province says those who don’t renew their documents by the deadline will be required to pay the renewal fee for 2020 and 2021.
Ontario optometrists were to withdraw provincially insured eye services starting Wednesday, after a breakdown in talks with the provincial government over reimbursement of costs.
The province’s health plan covers annual eye exams for residents aged 19 and under, 65 and older and people with specific health conditions.
The head of the Ontario Association of Optometrists said optometrists would start calling affected patients to cancel appointments and place them on waiting lists on Wednesday.
Dr. Sheldon Salaba said his group’s members are currently paying for around 45 per cent of those services and says the job action comes after disappointing talks on the issue with the government.
He said there will be a delay in service for people covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan until talks resume. However, he said people should still contact optometrists with emergencies for help reaching a family doctor or another health-care setting.
“We are going to help them navigate, depending on what is happening to them, the best option for them to receive care,” Salaba said Tuesday.
The province has offered to pay optometrists $39 million to retroactively account for increased costs of services.
It has also offered to increase reimbursement by 8.48 per cent.
Salaba said optometrists want an increase of 70 per cent to close the gap.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province is “extremely disappointed” in the association’s decision to withdraw services.
“To do so as Ontario faces the fourth wave of the pandemic is unconscionable,” she said in a statement on Wednesday.
Elliott said the optometrists declined to continue mediation on the weekend, and said the government is awaiting a “change of heart” from them.
She said the government will continue funding the affected services, and “any decision to withdraw services is the decision of individual optometrists.”
“Our government’s offer is an extremely fair and reasonable one, and I urge the OAO to stop withholding care from patients and commit to reaching an agreement today,” she said.
The province said approximately 2.9 million Ontario residents received provincially insured optometry services in the 2019-20 fiscal year.
- Previous Jukasa News Update – Wednesday, September 1, 2021
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