COVID-19 Policy Updates


Federal COVID-19 Policy Updates

COVID-19 Resources for Nonprofits

Advocacy from the Nonprofit Sector

Sector Survey on Effects of COVID-19

Provincial policy updates

April 22, 2022 update:

Ontario extends masking requirements in select indoor settings

Provincial masking requirements which were set to expire on April 27, 2022 are being extended in current settings until 12:00 a.m. on June 11, 2022. These settings include:

  • Long-term care homes
  • Retirement homes
  • Health care settings
  • Shelters and other congregate care settings that provide care and services to medically and socially vulnerable individuals.

A complete list of settings where masking requirements continue to apply is available here.

March 8, 2022 update:

On March 8, the provincial government announced their living with and managing COVID-19 plan that aims to lift all remaining public health and workplace safety measures by April 27. The goal of the province is to move away from reliance on emergency measures. The new plan includes guidance on previously issued vaccine and mask directives, case contact management and isolation, and COVID-19 data reporting.

Here is what nonprofits need to know:

Directives and letters coming to an end
As of March 14:

  • Mandatory vaccination policies end with the following revocations:
    • Directive 6 for public hospitals and home and community care services is revoked
    • Letter of instructions to the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility, and Ministry of Education are revoked
    • Minister of Long-Term Care directive on immunization policy is revoked

As of March 21:

  • Masking requirements end everywhere except in public transit, long-term care, retirement homes and other health-care settings, congregate settings, shelters, jail, congregate care and living settings including homes for individuals with developmental disabilities
  • All other regulatory requirements for businesses removed, including passive screening and safety plans

As of March 28:

As of April 27:

  • All remaining measures, directives, and orders end

Throughout these phases and beyond, individual organizations will continue to have the authority to keep requirements in place and the province will continue to provide PPE and rapid tests to health care settings, child care, and businesses.

Case and contact management and isolation guidelines are being minimized

It’s important for nonprofits to know new isolation guidelines that apply to their workers, volunteers, and clients who may be close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case. Nonprofit employers can use this information to make informed HR policies and decisions that center safety as people return to in-person work activities.

For non-household close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case

  • No isolation requirements for any groups
  • For 10 days after exposure close contacts should:
    • Self-monitor for symptoms
    • Wear a mask and avoid activities where mask has to be removed
    • Not visit anyone at higher risk of illness
    • Not visit or attend work in highest risk settings

For household close contacts of a positive COVID case

  • Household members that meet the criteria below do not need to self-isolate but should follow precautions for 10 days
    • Household members that tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days
    • 18+ household members that have received their booster dose
    • Under 18 years old household members that are fully vaccinated
  • If you do not meet the criteria above, then you must self-isolate as per current requirements

For highest risk settings

  • Highest risk settings are: hospitals, congregate living settings such as Long-Term Care, retirements homes, First Nation elder care lodges, group homes, shelters, hospices, and correctional institutions
  • Cases and contacts who live in highest risk settings must complete 10 days isolation and quarantine. Sector specific guidance will be shared at a later date.
  • Immune-compromised individuals who are symptomatic are recommended to self isolate for 10-20 days

Newly added to PCR eligibility list

  • Home and community care

February 14, 2022 update:

The Ontario government has announced that it is fast-forwarding its phased re-opening plan for the province. The following easing of measures are relevant for nonprofits:

As of Feb 17, 2022:

  • Increasing social gathering limits to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors
  • Increasing organized public event limits to 50 people indoors, with no limit outdoors
  • Removing capacity limits in non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms and meeting and event spaces, including conference centres or convention centres
  • Allowing 50 per cent of the usual seating capacity at sports arenas
  • Allowing 50 percent of the usual seating capacity for concert venues and theatres
  • Increasing capacity limits for indoor weddings, funerals or religious services, rites, or ceremonies to the number of people who can maintain two metres physical distance. Capacity limits are removed if the location opts-in to use proof of vaccination or if the service, rite, or ceremony is occurring outdoors.

As of March 1, 2022

  • Lifting capacity limits in all remaining indoor public settings
  • Lifting proof of vaccination requirements for all settings. Nonprofits can choose to continue to require proof of vaccination.

February 11, 2022 update:

Ontario Small Business Grant Relief

The Ontario Small Business Grant Relief provides eligible nonprofits and charities that were required to close indoor operations as a result of the province’s modified Step 2 restrictions that came into effect on January 5, 2022 a one time grant of $10,000.

To be eligible, nonprofits must have closed indoor operations between January 5 and January 26, have less than 100 employees, experienced a revenue decline of at 20% during shutdown, and must have not received the Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant or the Ontario small Business Support Grant.

Applications are due by March 11, 2022 and should take about 20 business days to be processed. Guidelines on application requirements can be found in the program guide and applications are open online.

Eligible nonprofits and charities are:

  • Facilities for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities
  • Indoor meeting and event spaces
  • Performing arts and cinemas
  • Indoor museums, galleries, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions
  • Before- and after- school programs

January 18, 2022 update:

Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program

The Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program provides eligible nonprofits and charities between 50% to 100% rebate payments for their commercial property tax and energy costs, depending on the degree to which provincially mandated public health measures impact the organization. For example, those that have had to reduce capacity to 50% will receive a 50% rebate and those that have had to completely close indoor activities will receive a rebate of 100%.

Eligible nonprofits and charities must pay commercial property tax and energy costs either directly or through the property owner, as detailed in their lease. Organizations that receive a municipal government rebate for all, or a portion, of their property taxes are not permitted to submit those same property taxes for a rebate through this program. Multi-use nonprofits and charities can apply for a rebate portion equivalent to the part of their properties that have reduced capacity or shut down.

The program is retroactive to December 19, 2021 and open till current public health measures remain. Guidelines on application requirements can be found in the program guide and applications are open online. Applications will be reviewed and paid in approximately 10 days.

Eligible nonprofits and charities include:

  • Gyms and other indoor sports and recreational facilities
  • Faith spaces
  • Indoor meeting and event spaces
  • Indoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas
  • Indoor museums, galleries, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions
  • Indoor teaching and instruction centres
  • Day camps and overnight camps for children

We recognize that only some nonprofits will be eligible for the program. We continue to advocate to the Ontario government for 6 immediate actions that will support nonprofits across the sector.

January 6, 2022 update:

Free emergency child care is available for nonprofit workers that are:

  • Health care workers, including but not limited to doctors, nurses, health care providers and those who work in long-term care and retirement homes, as well as individuals who manufacture or distribute medical/pharmaceutical supplies
  • Individuals performing work in relation to the administration, distribution or manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines
  • Child care workers, including those staffing the emergency child care programs
  • Frontline staff in Children’s Aid Societies and residential services
  • Individuals working in a homeless shelter or providing services to homeless persons
  • Individuals working in developmental services, violence against women services, victims’ services, anti-human trafficking and those engaged in interpreting or intervenor services for persons who are deaf or deaf-blind
  • Any individual whose child was registered in an emergency child care program delivered by a Consolidated Municipal Service Manager or District Social Service Administration Board during the time period beginning on April 6, 2021 and ending on April 16, 2021.

To confirm whether or not your family is eligible for access to emergency child care, please contact your local service system manager. See a full list of eligible workers.

January 3, 2022 update:

COVID-19: Ontario returns to Modified Step 2 (January 2022)

On January 3, 2022, the Ontario government announced a return to a “modified” Step Two under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020. Effective Jan. 5, 2022, for at least 21 days (until Jan. 26), the following measures relevant to the nonprofit sector are in place:

  • Private gatherings are limited to five persons indoors (single persons may meet one other household; caregivers do not count toward the limit), or 10 outdoors. Public gatherings are limited to five persons indoors (no limit for outdoors except the requirement to allow 2 metres of physical distance).
  • Employers must enable working from home whenever possible.
  • Schooling (public and private) will be virtual from Jan. 5 until at least Jan. 17.
    • Emergency child care will be available for school-aged children of “health care and other eligible frontline workers.” (Note: This list is expected to be the same as Schedule 4 in Ontario Regulation 263/20).
    • School buildings may open for child care, including emergency child care, as well as in-person special education.
  • The following must close:
    • Museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions, amusement parks and waterparks, tour and guide services and fairs, rural exhibitions, and festivals. Outdoor establishments may operate, with 50 percent capacity for any spectators.
    • Indoor concert venues, theatres, and cinemas. Rehearsals and recorded performances are permitted with restrictions.
    • Indoor sport and recreational fitness facilities including gyms, except for use by elite athletes (under an approved Return-to-play Framework) as well as child care, social services, mental health & addiction services (maximum ten people), and persons with a disability under certain conditions. Outdoor facilities may operate, with 50 percent capacity for spectators and other restrictions.
    • Indoor meeting and event spaces, with limited exceptions (e.g., for health care, child care and social service provision, collective bargaining).
    • Indoor dining.
    • Day camps and overnight camps for children.
  • Capacity for indoor weddings, funerals and religious services is limited to 50 percent of the room. Outdoor services are limited to the number that can maintain 2 metres of distance. Receptions are subject to the private gathering limits noted above.
  • Retail, public libraries, and community centres/multi-purpose facilities are limited to 50 percent capacity (subject to the rules for indoor recreation spaces, if applicable).
  • Short-term rentals (e.g., cottages) are once again restricted to individuals in need of housing.
  • Existing rules on vaccination certificates, face masks, distancing, screening of workers and clients/community members, contact tracking, and having a safety plan continue to apply.
  • All sectors should plan for absenteeism rates of 20 to 30 percent (according to Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore).

In light of the return to a modified Step Two, the Ontario government is expanding the Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program, announced on December 23, 2021:

  • Eligible organizations required to reduce capacity to 50 per cent will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 50 per cent of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to these measures. Those required to close for indoor activities, such as restaurants and gyms, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 100 per cent of their costs.

A full list of eligible business types will be made available when applications for the program open later this month. ONN has made inquiries to the Ministry of Finance concerning nonprofits’ eligibility and will keep the sector updated.

The Ontario government is “exploring options” for further supports for organizations and workers affected by the return to modified Step Two.

Ontario government press release Jan. 3, 2022.

Details can be found in O.Reg 263/20 – Rules for Areas in Step 2 under the Reopening Ontario Act.

December 23, 2021 update:

On December 22, the Ontario government announced a set of supports for businesses facing reimposed capacity limits related to the rise of a new COVID-19 variant. The supports include:

  • A new Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program that provides a 50 per cent rebate on property taxes and energy costs paid while subject to the current capacity limits. Details (including a list of eligible business types) will be available through a program guide in mid-January 2022. Payments will be provided retroactive to December 19, 2021.
  • A six-month interest- and penalty-free period (January 1, 2022 to July 1, 2022) to make payments for provincially administered taxes, including the Employer Health Tax.

ONN has contacted the Minister of Finance’s office to advocate for the inclusion of nonprofits in the program and will report back with more details as they become available.

The Ontario government also announced the creation of a Volunteer Corps portal where registered, unregistered, internationally trained, and retired health professionals can volunteer to help with the vaccination effort. This appears to be the first use of the Provincial Emergency Volunteer Initiative announced in Budget 2020, and is being run out of the newly (re)created Ministry of Citizenship and Multiculturalism.

Finally, the December 22 announcements included a call-out to businesses and community groups to help with the vaccination effort. Employer-led clinics must be operated and funded by employers and meet established criteria to vaccinate employees aged 18 and over, their families, and retirees, as well as members of the local and neighbouring communities as capacity allows. Community groups and places of worship interested in arranging a GO-VAXX mobile visit can contact GOVAXX@ontario.ca.

December 17, 2021 update:

In response to the rapidly-spreading Omicron variant, the Ontario government has introduced additional public health and workplace safety measures, including capacity and social gathering limits, effective 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, December 19, 2021. Changes directly relevant to nonprofits include:

  • A 50 per cent capacity limit in indoor recreational amenities, facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities, concert venues, theatres and cinemas, meeting and event spaces, museums, galleries, rural exhibitions and festivals. These limits do not apply to any portion of a place that is being used for a wedding, a funeral or a religious service, rite, or ceremony.
  • The personal protective equipment requirements outlined in Directive 5 are being updated to provide interim guidance to require N95 masks for health care workers providing direct care to or interacting with a suspected, probable or confirmed case of COVID.
  • Requiring the use of the enhanced vaccine certificate with QR code and the Verify Ontario app in settings where proof of vaccination is required (starting Jan. 4, 2022).
    • This means that nonprofits in sectors required to check certificates MUST use the app rather than visually checking certificates.

The Ontario government has also expanded vaccine booster eligibility. Starting Monday, December 20, 2021, individuals aged 18 and over can schedule their booster dose appointment through Ontario’s booking portal, by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre, through Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, participating pharmacies and primary care settings.

Free rapid antigen tests are also being offered to individuals at pop-up sites across Ontario. Visit Ontario.ca/holidaytesting to find out when and where you can access free COVID-19 rapid antigen tests during the holiday season.

December 13, 2021 update:

In response to rising COVID case numbers and the spread of the Omicron variant, the Ontario government has introduced new pandemic control measures. Changes directly relevant to nonprofits include:

  • The Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program (see details above under January 18 update).
  • Requiring the use of the enhanced vaccine certificate with QR code and the Verify Ontario app in settings where proof of vaccination is required (starting January 4, 2022).
    • This means that nonprofits in sectors required to check certificates MUST use the app rather than visually checking certificates.
    • Nonprofits in these sectors will be advised to no longer accept physician notes beginning January 10, 2022 as a QR-enabled certificate will be available by that point.
  • Confirming that vaccine certificates will continue to be required past the initial expiry date of January 17, 2022.
  • Begin requiring proof of vaccination for youth aged 12 to 17 years of age participating in organized sports at recreational facilities (starting December 20, 2021).
  • Additional measures for health care settings (see backgrounder).

The Ontario government is increasing rapid antigen testing for high-risk congregate settings. The Province has also extended its pause on lifting capacity limits in higher-risk settings, including wedding receptions in meeting/event spaces where there is dancing. The full suite of measures can be found in this backgrounder. Emergency orders have again been extended and can be viewed here.

December 7, 2021 update:

The Ontario government is extending the provincial Worker Income Protection Benefit (provides paid sick days), until July 31, 2022. Employers will have 120 days after their employees are paid to submit their application to the program for reimbursement.