ontario reopen

Ontario just added more services to the list of what can reopen

Though Ontarians have been able to access critical medical services during the pandemic lockdown, things like going to a dentist, seeing a physiotherapist and getting a new pair of glasses have not been permitted for weeks.

But, as the province continues to gradually return to a more cautious normal during Stage 1 of its reopening framework, the above practitioners are now being allowed to slowly start taking patients and clients again.

It was revealed today that regulated health professionals can resume operations immediately, so long as their respective regulatory bodies approve.

In Ontario, regulated health professionals include those already named, plus dozens more:

  • audiologists
  • chiropodists
  • chiropractors
  • dental hygienists
  • dental technologists
  • dentists
  • denturists
  • dietitians
  • homeopaths
  • kinesiologists
  • massage therapists
  • medical laboratory technologists
  • medical radiation technologists and sonographers
  • midwives
  • naturopaths
  • nurses
  • occupational therapists
  • opticians
  • optometrists
  • pharmacists
  • pharmacy technicians
  • physicians
  • physiotherapists
  • podiatrists
  • psychologists
  • psychtherapists
  • respiratory therapists
  • speech-language pathologists
  • traditional Chinese medical practitioners and acupuncturists

In the roundup of what can open during Stage 1 — which commenced on May 19 — non-emergency in-person services like those provided by regulated health professionals are mentioned, but are listed as not being able to resume until "Directive #2 for Health Care Providers" is amended or revoked.

And as of May 26, that has (quietly) happened.

In the revised directive, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams says that previously deferred services can now gradually restart, but asks clinics to proceed cautiously.

"Where possible, health care providers are encouraged to limit the number of in-person visits for the safety of health care providers and their patients. It remains important for providers to continue to monitor COVID-19 spread in their community," Williams states, also noting that reopening should "be carried out in coordination with, and adherence to guidance from, applicable health regulatory colleges."

He also sets out a list of new requirements for practitioners, which includes rules around hazard controls and the use of personal protective equipment, as well as around the use of remote treatment options instead of in-person, when realistic.

They are also asked to treat incoming patients systematically, keeping in mind that "activities that have higher implications for morbidity/mortality if delayed too long should be prioritized over those with fewer implications for morbidity/mortality if delayed too long."

"Decisions regarding the gradual restart of services should be made using processes that are fair to all patients," Williams adds.

Despite some blatant flouting of public health recommendations recently, the province today saw fewer than 300 new cases of COVID-19 for the second day in a row, even with increased testing rates.

As we move further into Stage 1 of reopening the economy, it will still be another week or so until we begin to see to what extent the loosening of lockdown measures has had upon the spread of the infectious disease.

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