TORONTO, Jan. 1, 2022—Health care will be top-of-mind again in 2022, as the pandemic enters Year 3, Ontario pulls the plug on fax machines and applications to decriminalize possession of small amounts of controlled substances are considered by Ottawa. Watch for these health-care milestones compiled by the Ontario Medical Association as the new year begins.
Jan. 1: Ontario raises minimum wage to $15 an hour from $14.35. Evidence shows that increases to the minimum wage improve economic security for families — one of the key social determinants of health.
Jan. 1: The Ontario government is pulling the plug on fax machines in public service. The facsimile machine has been around since 1843, and it has lived on even as email transformed communications. But starting in 2022, 1,500 telephone fax lines will no longer be available for use by the province’s civil servants. Physicians, pharmacies and hospitals are also increasingly moving to digital communications.
Jan. 4: Ontarians will be required to use a QR code and the Verify Ontario app in settings where proof of vaccination is required, such as restaurants and other high-risk businesses. The QR code can be used digitally or by printing a paper copy. Those with medical exemptions will also need a verified certificate with a QR code.
March 28: Ontario had been scheduled to lift mask-wearing requirements in indoor public spaces and lift all remaining proof-of-vaccine requirements. The surge in Omicron may result in continued restrictions.
May 7: The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit, which extended the caregiving benefit to 44 weeks from 42, and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, which extended that benefit to six weeks from four are set to expire as the federal government winds down income support measures introduced to help people unable to work for COVID-19 related reasons.
Aug. 1: Temporary paid sick days to end for Ontario employees whose employers don’t usually provide them. That means employers will no longer be reimbursed through the Worker Income Protection Benefit program for time off for workers who are sick with COVID-19 or getting vaccinated. Ottawa, meanwhile, has introduced legislation to provide hundreds of thousands of people who work in the federally regulated private sector with 10 days of sick pay.
2022: New federal measures in effect to increase penalties for those who harass or intimidate health-care workers and patients, including doubling the maximum prison term for intimidation to 10 years. Abuse and threats of violence against health-care workers escalated as anger over vaccine mandates and other public health measures spilled over, and protests outside hospitals were preventing access for patients and health-care workers.
2022: Health Canada is expected to decide whether it will grant requested exemptions from the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to decriminalize personal possession of small amounts of controlled substances. Applications have been made by Vancouver, the province of British Columbia and the City of Toronto. Those jurisdictions argue that decriminalizing possession of small amounts of illegal drugs will help tackle the escalating opioid overdose crisis, other drug poisoning deaths and addictions.
2022: Physicians and other health-care workers will continue to work through a backlog of almost 20 million medical services created by the COVID-19 pandemic — more than one patient service for every Ontarian, from the youngest to the oldest. These delayed services include preventive care, cancer screening, surgeries and procedures, routine immunizations and diagnostic tests such as MRIs and CT scans, mammograms and colonoscopies. The backlog will take years to clear. Read more about the backlog.
2022: If Ontario’s proposed Fixing Long-Term Care Act and amended Retirement Homes Act pass, long-term care home inspectors would be empowered to issue compliance orders on the spot. The government could suspend a licence and have a long-term care supervisor installed to take over operation without having to revoke a licence The legislation would also set off new direct care targets and legislate a dedicated person in charge of infection prevention and control. The number of inspectors would double with the hiring of 193 inspections staff by the fall and maximum fines for provincial offences would also be doubled, reaching $1 million for a second offence.
The Ontario Medical Association represents Ontario’s 43,000-plus physicians, medical students and retired physicians, advocating for and supporting doctors while strengthening the leadership role of doctors in caring for patients. Our vision is to be the trusted voice in transforming Ontario’s health-care system.
For more information, please contact:
OMA Media Relations