INFORMATION & UPDATES
LINKS FOR PPE & DISINFECTANTS
The OOA is working to help you successfully navigate through this time. Opticians are required to source PPE from non-governmental agencies, so we have compiled a list of companies who have been working to fill the demand for PPE, hand sanitizer and protective barriers.
These links will be updated daily
June 27, 2020
Can I Do A New Contact Lens Fitting?
During these times of COVID-19, there continues to be misconception as to what we are permitted to do, not permitted to do, and what is left up to our own professional judgement. One of these misconceptions is whether we are permitted to do a new contact lens fit. The College of Opticians of Ontario guidelines state that we are permitted to perform this service. However, we must use our professional judgement to ensure the safety of the patient and ourselves. The College of Optometrists of Ontario does permit new fits. When making the decision to provide a new contact lens fit, we need to give full thought and professional judgement due the fact that when we teach a new contact lens wearer how to insert and remove a lens, we spend a fair amount of time in close contact and possibly touch the patient’s face and eyes. The current science says that the longer we expose ourselves to an infected person, the bigger the risk of contracting COVID-19.
So, in the end, you can do a new fit. We strongly recommend that you use all appropriate PPE and be sure to have the patient wear a mask. Of course, you as an optician, must wear a mask while serving patients.
June 18, 2020
Do I have to return to work?
With many optician and optometry practices re-opening, some opticians are expressing concerns about the fear of contracting COVID-19 while at work. Some OOA members have reached out asking if having this fear is an acceptable reason for not returning, while expecting their employer to keep their job available when they are ready to return. We will attempt to answer this question by referring to the Ontario Employment Standards regarding infectious disease emergency leave. Before we do, we must state that this is general information about employment law as opposed to legal advice or other professional advice. The OOA strongly suggests that you contact the Ontario Employment Standards office or seek advice from a lawyer.
A general fear of returning to work because of the chance of contracting COVID-19 is not an acceptable reason to not return to work once called back by your employer. If you are in a high-risk category because of your age or a medical condition, you do have a valid reason not to return to work. There is a stipulation though. You must provide your employer with a note from your health care provider stating that you should not return to work due to your stated condition. Without this documentation your employer can consider that you have abandoned your job. Not returning to work under these circumstances is not for an indefinite period of time. Six weeks after the government declares the state of emergency over, you will not be covered by your doctor’s note. You will be expected to return to work. If you do not return to work at that time, if requested by your employer, you can be dismissed from your job.
For the full section go to:
June 12, 2020
Can I return to work while awaiting a COVID-19 test?
There seems to be some confusion about going to work after a COVID-19 test. Last week the Minister of Health strongly urged healthcare workers to be tested before returning to practice. This is not mandatory, but up to your discretion. We have received calls from members expressing their concern that they were told that they should not return to work until they receive their negative result. This is only true if you have symptoms, have been out of the country, have been in contact with somebody who has tested positive or if that person has been in contact with someone who has tested positive. If you don’t meet the above criteria, but has had a test just to confirm, you are under no obligation to isolate while waiting for you results. But remember, your test only tells you if you have COVID-19 at the time of your test. You could become infected at any time after your test and negative result.
Below are quotes from CTV on June 12, 2020
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott
“I went and while I was at the assessment centre having the test, I was advised that because I had not directly been in contact with anyone with COVID that I did not need to self-isolate...That was the medical advice I was given and that is what I did and my test results came back negative of course."
Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health
“As we outlined our testing criteria at the assessment centres… if you have signs and symptoms and you're suspected of being a COVID case, you will get your test and then you are supposed to stay in self-isolation until you get results,” Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference on Thursday.
“Other criteria, you say, ‘Well, I was in contact with a known positive.’ That is another reason to get tested and you still have to self-isolate until you get that result back, including people who say, ‘Well I'm not sure but I was in a highly risky area, I don't know.’’”
He noted that the rules are different for people who are not experiencing symptoms of the virus and have not been in contact with a known case.
“Testing asymptomatic people... say 5,000 workers, none of them have symptoms, none of them are cases, we are not going to say all 5,000 wait for five, six days to get results back. They just continue going to work because it is asymptomatic testing,” he added.
“They have no signs and symptoms, they have no contact with a case, no possible contact with a case, and there is no evidence of an outbreak. So it is a different situation altogether.”
May 29, 2020
Employment Considerations When Reopening Your Optical Business
As the Ontario economy begins to open, employers should have a strategy in place to minimize legal liability when reopening their businesses. This article highlights employment law considerations that are critical for successful reopening of an optical business.
May 29, 2020
GET TESTED FOR COVID-19
The Ontario government continues to expand and extend its testing capacity for COVID-19 to include "proactive" testing, including those who are asymptomatic, or have not been exposed to infection . Employees of "essential workplaces" and regulated healthcare practitioners who are returning to practice have been identified as "priority populations" who should be tested. Deputy Premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott encouraged healthcare practitioners to be tested before they return to practice. She also emphasized that testing negative in no way affects the requirement to fully observe all other social distancing, client, employee and practitioner safety and infection control requirements. You may locate the assessment centre nearest you by following this link: Click Here. Referrals are no longer required for healthcare practitioners to be tested.
27 May 2020
AMENDMENTS TO DIRECTIVE #2 FOR HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS
Last evening, the Chief Medical Officer of Ontario (CMOH) released amendments to Directive #2 for Health Care Providers (Regulated Health Professionals or Persons who operate a Group Practice of Regulated Health Professionals) Click Here. In essence, those amendments authorize all regulated health professionals to gradually return to full practice, including the delivery of "all deferred and non-essential and elective services". Which services should be provided, which should continue to be provided remotely and which services can be provided in-person are left to the judgement of the healthcare professional on a case-by-case basis.
The amendments to the Directive make it abundantly clear that practitioners may return to practice only if they can fully comply with all screening and infection controls set out in COVID-19 Operational Requirements: Health Sector Restart Click Here. The College of Opticians issued its own guidance Click Here for return to full practice and members should monitor the College's website, read all communications from the College and act accordingly.
This has been a long and sometimes frustrating journey and I congratulate our members on their patience and forbearance.
I know that all OOA members will act responsibly in the best interests of our clients and staff as we return to full practice and I wish you all the very best.
May 16, 2020
As the Ontario Government continues to update its list of businesses that can reopen, opticians are finding the latest update very confusing. Opticians do provide some “retail” products, such as Plano sunglasses and contact lens solutions, but our main business is providing prescribed products. As regulated healthcare professionals, we not only fall under the rules and legislation for retailers, but we have the added regulations, standards and policies of healthcare providers.
There seems to be some confusion within the optician and optometry groups with the latest list of retailers permitted to open on May 19. Opticians and optometrists continue to be required to only provide essential emergency services as stated in Directive #2. This means that the casual sale of eyewear is not permitted. Sales are only permitted in a situation where the patient is in an emergency situation such as having broken or lost glasses. Failure to comply with this directive could put you in a position to be charged with professional misconduct. The College of Opticians of Ontario (COO) has sent out Update #14 that reminds opticians that we are not included in the new list of businesses permitted to reopen on May 19. The update also includes links to the new COO Return to Practice Guidelines. These guidelines are relevant whether you are providing services within the previously distributed Emergency Guidelines, or to be used once we get the green light to open for regular eyewear sales. The College of Optometrists of Ontario’s latest bulletin mirrors the COO’s directive.
The challenge of finding Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) continues and may become even a bigger challenge as businesses continue to reopen. The Disinfection & Pandemic committee of the OOA continues to work on compiling a list of suppliers of PPE. This list will be published soon In the meantime, the Government of Ontario has compiled a list of PPE suppliers.
Stay healthy and be safe!!
May 4, 2020
As talk of re-opening is gaining momentum, we are all seeing suggested guidelines as to how we will practice. While a number of the suggested guidelines are similar, at the end of the day, Ontario opticians will be required to follow whatever guidelines are adopted by the College of Opticians of Ontario (COO). Ontario opticians will need to operate not only according to guidelines issued by the COO, but also by the Government of Ontario regarding more general retail situations.
The Opticians Association of Canada recently distributed a list of suggested protocols for opticians. The document was compiled using references from the Saskatchewan Association of Optometrists and the Quebec Order of Optometrists. The suggested protocols demonstrate ways for opticians to provide services in a safe manner. The Alberta College and Association of Opticians have developed guidelines for re-opening.
The COO Clinical Practice committee previously distributed guidelines for remote and face to face dispensing. It can be found here. The Clinical Practice committee will be developing additional guidelines for when we return to face to face practice. The OOA Disinfection and Pandemic committee will be meeting and reviewing recommendations from various sources and plan on offering input to the COO Clinical Practice committee.
It is great to see that many of our vendors have been reaching out to opticians asking how they can help once we start going back to “normal” business. What support are we looking for? Extended payment terms? Addition of more value priced products? If you have not been contacted, and would like to offer input, please send your suggestions to and they will be forwarded on to the vendors that have been reaching out.
Let’s hope that we are close to getting to our “New normal”. Stay tuned for more information.
Stay healthy. Stay safe.
April 23, 2020
The College of Opticians of Ontario has created a directory to help patients find opticians who are providing essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you would like to add your name to this directory login to your Member Portal and follow the instructions.
April 22, 2020
Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy Opens For Applications, Monday, April 27
Some time ago the federal government announced "CEWS", but the program wasn't passed by Parliament until April 20. The CRA portal will open for applications on Monday, April 27. The portal can be accessed through: CLICK HERE The calculations to determine eligibility and the amount of the subsidy for each applicant are available through the portal. Health care clinics/practices that are incorporated, or are partnerships, including sole proprietorships, are eligible to apply. The federal government has indicated that funding will flow starting May 5.
This is the program by which the federal government will provide a 75% wage subsidy, to a maximum of $847 per week per employee, with no limit on the number of employees. Employers must demonstrate that their revenues have declined at least 30% month-over-month (15% for March) compared to the same month in 2019.
This is in addition to the Temporary Wage Subsidy that provides employers with a 10% temporary wage subsidy for a three-month period up to $25,000 in total. The TWS is administered through the current payroll remittance system.
April 15, 2020
The College of Opticians of Ontario (COO) has been receiving requests from the public for help in finding opticians who are providing essential services. In response to this, the COO is building a directory on their website listing opticians who are available to provide essential services. Opticians are encouraged to, whenever possible, to provide these services remotely. When providing services this way, opticians must use their professional judgement. Providing essential services remotely will challenge opticians to be resourceful in order to do this safely. The COO update email on April 9th lists examples as to how opticians can practice under these circumstances. If you would like to be listed as a provider of essential services, send your request to . To view the full COO update, click here.
April 7, 2020
Help is on the way. The Government of Canada has opened up the lines for Canadians to apply for the Canada Emergency Fund Benefit. Day one had over 300,000 Canadians apply for CERB. There is also help on the way for employers. Qualifying businesses will be eligible for a $40,000 interest free loan. This loan will be interest free until December 31, 2022. At that time the balance of the loan due will be converted to a five-year term loan at an interest rate of 5%. If a business pays back $30,000 of the $40,000 loan by December 31, 2020, the remaining balance of $10,000 is forgiven. There is also relief available for employers to encourage them to keep employees working. In ormation can be found here.
March 25, 2020
The College of Opticians of Ontario (COO) has distributed a message to opticians and dispensary owners. In this directive the COO reminds owners that opticians must adhere to the directive that states that only essential services are provided. I encourage all opticians and business owners to review this latest update.
While these directives remain in effect, the College has advised opticians that they are required to suspend all non-essential in-person patient care. - COO
This means that casual eyewear sales are not permitted. It is the decision of the optician whether the service required can be provided remotely or safely in-person. The COO update also includes a list of measures dispensaries can take to help ensure the safety of the patient and the optician. There are also a few suggestions to help the optician decide what could be deemed essential.
I want to reiterate once again, it is up to the optician to decide whether the service required can be provided remotely or safely in-person.
March 24, 2020
The Premier has announced Ontario is asking all essential businesses to remain open. Opticians seem to fall into this category as we dispense medical devices, including safety eyewear. Last Friday the Chief Medical Officer said only emergency care should be carried out. Confusing. Opticians must make themselves available, one way or another. More on that in our next post. This takes us all a big step beyond the previously issued restrictions and requirements for social distancing. Practice social distancing and wash your hands, surfaces and eyewear you touch.
We are going to get through this. How we behave now will dictate how long and how devastating this pandemic might be.
Stay healthy and be safe!!