COVID-19 Information for Members – April 8, 2020

This update contains important information on three topics:          

Health Care Provider Recruitment by the Ministry of Health

Further Information on Closure of Non-Essential Businesses

Redeployment Requests Made of Members by Employers  

Health Care Provider Recruitment

As previously announced in the College email of March 23rd, the Ministry of Health is looking for health care providers who may be working part-time and are prepared to increase their work hours; or former health care providers who are retired, or on inactive status with their regulatory college and are prepared to return to employment.  There is no indication of how many members will be needed or how they might assist.   At this time, the Ministry wishes to gather information about potential availability as they continue their health human resource planning in the face of COVID-19. To this end, the Ministry has asked the regulatory colleges to share the following information with members.

News Release from the Office of the Premier of Ontario was published yesterday, April 7th describing the Ministry’s recruitment efforts and the development of an online Health Workforce Matching Portal. The Portal will permit matching between interested health care providers and the potential needs of workplaces across the province. The Ministry has developed three documents describing the Health Workforce Matching Portal providing detailed instructions for members who may be interested in becoming a part of this initiative. These documents include: 

  1. One page Fact Sheet which provides an overview of the Health Workforce Matching Portal and how interested members may set up their personal profile;
  2. Detailed Training Guide to assist practitioners in accessing the Portal and creating a personal account; and,
  3. Frequently Asked Questions covering many areas of the Portal.

The Ministry of Health has established a ‘helpline’ to provide technical support to interested members should they have difficulty in access the Portal and creating an account. Members may contact the Ontario Public Service (OPS) IT Service Desk at 1-888-677-4873 or 416-246-7171. Once one hears « You have reached the OPS IT Service Desk » enter prompt code 011.  

Further Information on Closure of Non-Essential Businesses

On April 3, 2020 the Ontario Government passed O. Reg. 119/20: order undersubsection 7.0.2 (4) – closure of places of non-essential businesses. This is a more restrictive amendment to an earlier Regulation passed on March 24, 2020. This Regulation further restricts the list of businesses and services that can remain open during the COVID-19 crisis. Included in the schedule of exemptions to the closure order are two sections that are relevant to members of the College:

 38. Regulated health professionals (urgent care only) including dentists, optometrists, chiropractic services, ophthalmologists, physical and occupational therapists and podiatrists. 

 39. Organizations that provide health care including retirement homes, hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, independent health facilities and mental health and addictions counselling supports. 

Although « mental health and addiction counselling supports » are including in the list of exempted businesses (#39), psychologists and psychological associates are not among the professions noted in #38. Therefore, the College is strongly advising that all registrants should only be providing remote care.

Should a member believe, in their professional judgement, that a client is in need of urgent and/or emergency care, and it is impossible to offer this remotely, it is strongly recommended that members obtain independent legal advice regarding whether this would contravene the provincial order.  

Redeployment Requests Made of Members by Employers

The College has received a number of inquiries from members who are concerned their employers may ask them to undertake roles outside of the usual scope of practice associated with the profession but more in keeping with those in the public domain. Some members have indicated that their workplace may expect them to perform these « other duties as required » as they could be counted on to undertake them professionally and with sensitivity.  While no specific examples have been provided, one could imagine this might include initial screening of individuals wishing to enter the facility.

If members are asked to perform public domain tasks it is important they assure themselves that they can do so competently and request any specialized training needed to ensure the role can be undertaken properly. Members should discuss this with their supervisor or manager and ask for any training necessary to allow them to perform this role safely and effectively.  

It is very unlikely that a member would be asked to perform a Controlled Act for which members of the College of Psychologists are not authorized. That is, one generally performed by members of other health professions. Should this occur however, it would be important that this be brought to the attention of their supervisor or manager indicating one’s concern regarding non-compliance with the Controlled Act restrictions under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991. A full list of the Controlled Acts may be found in section 27 of the Act ( ). Should an employer insists upon the member performing such a service, members may wish to obtain independent legal advice.  

To review the College’s Previous updates on COVID-19 please visit the information page on our website. 

Keep safe and healthy,   

Rick Morris, Ph.D., C.Psych. 

Registrar & Executive Director