As citizens and front-line health care professionals, occupational therapists need to be well informed about precautions and protocols that mitigate risks of contact with or spread of the coronavirus. OSOT recognizes the extraordinary pressures members are experiencing both in their day to day lives and as related to their work.
The Society will update this page regularly in an effort to provide current, useful information to facilitate your planning and decision-making and to frame our services in ways to best protect you through these unprecedented times.
- May 27, 2020 - Ministry of Health Communicates Decision re Pandemic Pay: Payments restricted to previously announced workers.
- May 27, 2020 - Ontario Extending Emergency Orders During COVID-19 Outbreak to June 9, 202
- May 26, 2020 - Amended CMOH Directive #2 and a new guidance document - COVID-19 Operational Requirements: Health Sector Restart
- May 14, 2020 - A Framework for Opening our Province – Stage 1
- May 14, 2020 - Government Allows Certain Health and Medical Services to Resume: In-person counselling and scheduled surgeries are scheduled to resume based on the ability to meet pre-specified conditions as outlined in A Measured Approach to Planning for Surgeries and Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic, as well as resuming professional services such as shifting Children's Treatment Centres from virtual to in-person.
- May 14, 2020 - Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services summarizes key program information, including changes to service delivery, areas of flexibility, and additional resources available during the COVID-19 outbreak to support Ontario social support recipients and applicants:
- May 12, 2020 - Government Extends Declaration of Emergency to June 2, 2020
- May 1, 2020 - Certain Business Allowed to Re-open
- May 1, 2020 - Additional Steps to enable Health Care Flexibility during COVID
- April 27, 2020 - Re-Opening Ontario after COVID-19 – A Framework for Re-opening the Province
- April 25, 2020 - Supporting Frontline Heroes with Pandemic Pay
- April 25, 2020 - Ontario Allows for the Redeployment of Staff to Better Care for People with COVID-19
- April 23, 2020 - COVID-19 Action Plan -Protecting Vulnerable Ontarians
- April 23, 2020 - Extension of State of Emergency to May 6, 2020
- April 22, 2020 - Ontario Takes Immediate Steps to Further Protect Long-Term Care Residents and Staff During COVID-19 Outbreak
- April 20, 2020 - Health Experts say the COVID-19 Outbreak has likely peaked in Ontario
- March 17, 2020 - Declaration of State of Emergency
- March 2020 - Ontario’s Action Plan – Responding to COVID-19
Essential vs. Non-Essential Care
- View the College's guidance questions for considering the risks of providing or not providing services or adapting your service delivery model.
- View COTO Webinar Conversations with the College: COVID-19 & Occupational Therapy - How can occupational therapists determine what is an essential service? Can occupational therapists provide virtual service? Can occupational therapists be redeployed?
- Many occupational therapy services will be considered essential in that they contribute to clients' ability to be discharged from hospital and/or to manage their own care or be cared for safely at home, preventing visits to the ER or hospitalizations.
- Occupational therapist who continue to practice should be guided by the Ministry of Health's sector specific guidance, developed for health care professionals and this should be referenced regularly for the most up-to-date information.
OSOT Office Team Working Remotely – We’re open and here to support you!
To support efforts to reduce the spread of the virus, OSOT staff office operations are being managed remotely. Staff are actively working and are here to support you! Telephone, email and meeting capabilities have not been negatively impacted as we have capacity to work remotely in place. OSOT Teams continue to meet (as they previously met virtually) and we encourage members to be in touch and to share their experiences, issues and needs - send us your messages!
Advocacy Through COVID-19 Pandemic
We continue to be active in our advocacy to identify impacts of COVID-19 policy changes that impact occupational therapists' ability to provide essential services to Ontarians. We'll share our advocacy documents in our regular COVID-19 updates and in the Practice Sector Updates section below. Help ensure OSOT is representing your issues and your voice by keeping us posted! We're all working together during this challenging time!
Accessing Member Needs Through Survey
We have been, and continue to be, informed by membership input through surveys. Insight from the practice front is critical and helps to identify needs that OSOT can address to serve members best. View past, current and future input opportunities below.
- COVID-19 - How are OTs Engaging in Change? - Opened March 23rd - Now closed.
- Understanding the Impacts of COVID-19 on Your OT Practice - Opened on May 22nd - Closes June 1st.
- Transitions to Virtual Practice - Coming soon.
- Adapting to the New Normal: Professional Development and Resource Needs - Coming soon.
- Reflections on Progress To-date - A follow-up survey we will circulate in early fall.
Sectoral webinars have been offered and archived to facilitate information sharing, questions and answers and member networking during these challenging times. Complimentary access to these well archived webinars for the following sectors can be found on OSOT’s Archived Webinar Webpage.
- Auto Insurance Sector
- Hospital Sector
- Home and Community Care Sector
- Long-Term Care Homes Sector
- Primary Care Sector
New OSOT Telepractice Resource
Integrating Telepractice into your Occupational Therapy Practice: A resource developed to support transitions to virtual care provision. Also, visit the Telepractice section of this COVID-19 webpage for more resources.
To ensure that members are receiving consistent information, OSOT directs members to the following reliable resources of information. We urge all members to be informed, respectful and compliant of advisories and recommendations and to be in a position to inform clients of any implications for access to OT services.
- College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario
- COTO hosts a dedicated webpage on COVID-19 with guidance information for OTs and the public which is updated regularly.
- Occupational therapists are advised to review and ensure practice of best practices for infection control and should review the COTO Standards for Infection Protection and Control, 2019.
- Ontario Ministry of Health COVID-19 Web Resources (Updated Daily)
COVID-19 - Guidance for the Health Sector - This site is updated twice daily and provides the most current provincial guidance such as:
COVID-19 - Directives, Memorandums and Other Resources
- case definition of COVID-19, symptoms to watch for, situations of for concern, etc.
- guidance for self-isolation and self-monitoring.
- guidance for various health care environments and sectors - e.g. acute care, primary care, home and community, long-term care home, etc.
- a call for regulated health professionals who could return to work or increase hours from part time to help support Ontario’s efforts to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Monitor this page for most recent updates to Directives, government memos, updates from Provincial Command Table.
- Ontario Ministry of Health Public Facing COVID-19 Information
- Up to date resources that can support you as a citizen and be a good reference for your clients.
- Public Health Ontario COVID-19 Public Resources
- this site provides fact sheets in multiple languages including information on:
- How to self-monitor.
- How to self-isolate.
- Self-isolation: Guide for caregivers, household members and close contacts.
- Contact your Local Public Health Unit to discuss local direction about services, etc.
- Your Employer/Contracting Organization
- Occupational therapists employed or contracted should consult with their employer/contractor for specific organizational policy and any directives unique to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As occupational therapists and their organizations identify what are essential services, it becomes critical to determine whether these services can be safely delivered in person or, alternatively, if they can be delivered virtually by telephone or with a web-based video platform.
OSOT Resource – Integrating Telepractice into your Occupational Therapy Practice
Recognizing the challenge to build new service delivery models into practice as quickly as possible, OSOT has developed a basic primer on telepractice intended to help you work through decisions to integrate this into your practice. You can view each section below or download the full resource.
The Ministry of Health has also released a new resource - Adopting and integrating virtual visits into care: Draft Clinical Guidelines which provides excellent guidance for telepractice in keeping with provincial best practices. Note that this resource has been released as a DRAFT in order to expedite access to information that is critical to health professionals at this time.
View the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario’s Webinar - Conversations with the College: COVID-19 & Occupational Therapy
- How can occupational therapists determine what is an essential service?
- Can occupational therapists provide virtual service?
- Can occupational therapists be redeployed?
Long-Term Care Homes
Home & Community Care
Primary Health Care
Mental Health Services
- May 26, 2020 - Amended CMOH Directive #2 and a new guidance document - COVID-19 Operational Requirements: Health Sector Restart
- May 5, 2020 - Ontario Expands Virtual Mental Health Services During COVID-19
- April 22, 2020 - View Shaking the Stigma: We Need a Proactive COVID-19 Response for Mental Health Addictions article by CMHA, MHO and CHMO.
- April 8, 2020 - MOH established a dedicated Mental Health and Addictions Table led by Ontario Health’s Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence to address issues related to access to PPE, targeted guidance for the mental health and addictions sector and mental health and addictions supports for health care workers.
- Sectoral guidance will be directed by organization - e.g. hospital, auto insurance, home and community.
- May 4, 2020 - Announcement of emergency funding of up to $12 million to immediately expand online and virtual mental health supports and $2.6 million to hire new psychologists and other mental health workers to support Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) personnel. View Press
- See Ministry Guidance documents.
- See resources to support self, family and clients - CAMH Mental Health and the COVID-19
Pandemic, Ontario Hospital Association Strenghtening
Mental Health and Wellness during COVID-19, Mental Health Commission of Canada Resource Hub -
Mental Health and Wellness during the
Auto Insurance Sector
School-Based OT Services
The following is not intended to provide legal, accounting, or tax advice. Members should consult their own advisers who are aware of their individual situations and can provide individualized advice. The intent is to provide general guidance re programs and benefits of relevance to health professionals and small business owners. The programs listed below are being changed and adjusted frequently. Please check government links for current information.
OSOT recognizes the many potential impacts that the virus, isolation/quarantine or work/school/daycare restrictions will have on members’ earning capacity. We are pleased that there are government efforts to address the personal economic impacts of this situation and urge members to review the following supports.
Have a question you'd like to ask a lawyer about your employment situation over the pandemic period? OSOT members have access to complimentary telephone legal advice 24/7.
Awareness Resources: Do you need signage to alert patients and visitors to restrictions?
Unpaid, Job Protected Infectious Diseases Emergency Leave (Ontario Employment Standards Act)
Provincial Government Supports for Workers
- June 1, 2020 - Infectious Disease Emergency Leave - Provides for non-unionized employees to be place on emergency leave during the COVID-19 outbreak any time their hours of work are temporarily reduced by their employer due to COVID-19. Ensures businesses aren’t forced to terminate employees after temporary lay-off periods expire.
- Ontario Government – COVID-19 Support for Workers - Guidance for health care workers and others who are on the job.
- Public Drug Programs - Effective May 13, 2020, individuals using the Ontario Drug Benefit Program will not be required to pay any co-payment until July 1, 2020 for any prescription of 30+ days that is now being dispensed in installments. In addition, existing and new Trillium Drug Program households can apply for an income reassessment to help reduce the deductible for families during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 - Information on supports for daycare, student loans, deferral of provincial taxes and more. Announced March 24, 2020.
- Emergency Childcare for Health Care and Frontline Staff
- Job-Protected Leave - The Ontario Legislature has passed the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020 to provide job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or day care closures or to care for other relatives.
Federal Government Supports for Workers
View Benefits and Services
- Canada Emergency Response Benefit, a taxable benefit will provide $500/week for up to 16 weeks for workers who lose their income or make less than $1,000 (gross) a month in employment or self-employment income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. REMINDER! Recipients must renew their eligibility every 4 weeks. Recipients can reapply for the benefit either online or by calling 1 (833) 966-2099.
- Employment Insurance
- Canada Child Benefit
- Mortgage Supports
- Canada Student Loans
- Changes to Taxes and Benefits
- May 29, 2020 - Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance - Commercial landlords in Ontario can now apply for rental assistance to help their small business tenants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Federal Government Supports for Students and New Graduates
Federal Government Supports for Employers/Business Owners
View Benefits and Services
- Canada Emergency Business Account - In conjunction with Canadian banks, the federal government announced a new loan program to support small businesses in Canada. The Canada Emergency Business Account is part of the federal government’s loan and loan-guarantee program for small and medium-sized businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It opened to applicants on April 9th, and provides a $40,000 loan that is interest-free until Dec. 31, 2022.
- Canada Emergency Age Subsidy
- 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy
- Access to Credit
- Deferred Tax Payment Timelines
Provincial Government Supports for Employers/Business Owners
View Benefits and Services
Pandemic Planning Resources
Members are encouraged to be familiar with the following resources and guidance in consideration of your own safety as well as that of your clients and their families when providing in-person services.
Access to Personal Protective Equipment
Please contact us should you have others to add to this section.
Ontario recognizes the hard work and dedication of front-line heath care providers. To support them during these unprecedented and challenging times, the Ministry of Health is looking for additional experienced health care providers to help provincial efforts to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19.
Please Take Note: Occupational therapists who are not working but able, working part-time and want to and are prepared to increase their work hours, or former healthcare providers who are retired, or on inactive status with their regulatory college; and are prepared to return to employment are asked to consider this request.
Learn more about how to offer your services.
Occupational therapists know how important engagement in meaningful occupations is to health and well-being! At times when people's routines of daily living are disrupted as they are so significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic. OSOT is considering a social media campaign that promotes to our broad following the importance of maintaining a participation in occupations. We're wanting to develop a resource of suggestions to keep engaged in occupations while social distancing. Send us your suggestions and ideas!
- Does OSOT's professional liability insurance cover me for providing virtual services (telephone or web-based)?
If a client lives outside of Ontario, an OTs must consider the legislation, standards and guidelines for providing practice/telepractice services within the client’s jurisdiction. This may require registration (temporary or permanent) in that jurisdiction and so you can find information on COTO’s website regarding practising outside Ontario. We also recommend that you review COTO’s Guidelines on Telepractice as they cover the considerations mentioned above which an OT needs to know.
Professional Liability Insurance
Your professional liability insurance policy will cover practice/telepractice when you are dealing with clients who are permanent residents of Canada. If a Canadian citizen is temporarily living outside of Canada (i.e. snowbirds), the policy would still cover a telepractice situation but lawsuits would have to be brought against you in a Canadian court for the policy to cover you. If your client was a resident of another country, the policy would only cover you if they brought legal action against you in a Canadian court.
Note: If you are not registered to practice in a jurisdiction that requires it, your professional liability insurance will not cover you, even if the lawsuit is brought against you in a Canadian court.
If you have clients who are residents of other countries and you wanted coverage in those jurisdictions (to ensure you had coverage in the event a lawsuit was brought against you in that jurisdiction), you could speak with our insurance administrator, PROLINK (1-800-663-6828), who could assist you in potentially obtaining coverage for those jurisdictions.
** Send us your questions and we'll work to find a response for you.
We’re working to keep you apprised! You have our commitment to share information as we receive it and to update this web page regularly. Now is a good time to follow OSOT’s social media platforms and share your perspectives on: