The Ontario government recently announced that it was extending the stay-at-home order for the majority of public health regions across the province to ensure the continued health and safety of Ontarians.
The announcement notes that when it is safe to do so, the provincial government will transition each region from the emergency order measures to a revised and strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open.
Effective February 10, 2021, the following three regions will be moving back to the Green-Prevent level in the COVID-19 Response Framework and will no longer be subject to the stay-at-home order:
- Hastings Prince Edward Public Health;
- Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health; and
- Renfrew County and District Health Unit.
The emergency order will continue to apply as follows:
- Toronto, Peel and York regions – until February 22, 2021
- Remaining 28 public health regions – until February 16, 2021
As we have done on numerous occasions throughout the pandemic, the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (the College) is providing the following update as to how this most recent announcement may impact members and other stakeholders.
Reiterating practice considerations
While some members may be permitted to provide in-person services, either because of the region in which they practise and/or the nature of the services they provide, and in accordance with the stay-at-home order (Ontario Regulation 11/21) and the rules for areas in stage 1 (Ontario Regulation 10/21), the College strongly advises all members to continue, wherever reasonably possible, to provide services by electronic means.
As noted in previous eBulletins – most recently in our January 14, 2021 eBulletin – members should ensure that they are up to date with respect to information and guidance from government and public health authorities and familiar with previous College communications regarding:
- safety and infection control measures;
- considerations for members regarding in-person practice; and
- key considerations for members in private practice.
Members are also advised to consult the College’s practice resources regularly, including:
- COVID-19 Updates webpage
- Top 6 considerations for virtual services
- FAQs on cross-jurisdictional practice
- ETHICS->A: Ethical Decision-Making Tool
We continue to take our cues from government and public health authorities and we remind members to do the same. The College will continue to monitor the situation very closely and to provide further communications regarding new provincial updates which may impact members, as they become available.
We remind members and other stakeholders to visit the College’s centralized webpage for all things related to COVID-19, including College resources, links to government and public health authorities, and eBulletins which have been sent to members and other stakeholders throughout the pandemic.
We thank you for your ongoing dedication and urge you to continue to do all that you can to keep well and stay safe.
Lise Betteridge, MSW, RSW
Registrar and CEO